The funniest thing about Kobe Bryant’s retirement “announcement” yesterday is that Kobe Bryant was clearly the last person to know that this would be Kobe Bryant’s final season. Honestly, I thought he had announced it already, given that he’s a broken-down old mummy who can no longer play basketball.
But because it’s 2015, and because nothing in 2015 can happen without being branded to within an inch of its life, yesterday was the day Bryant chose to randomly mark the beginning of the formal commemoration of the final stages of the lead-up to the end of his pre-comeback career (or “regulation time”). I assume there’s already a two-part fall finale planned in which Kobe misses a game-tying layup while also breaking his wrist.
Bryant’s comeback came in the form of a poem (so tasteful) posted over at Jeterland. Derek Jeter, as you recall, is the poster child for turning an otherwise unremarkable final season into a twisted personal brand rela2nch that no one asked for. Given the deterioration of his abilities and the urgent need for his team to develop its younger talent, Kobe Bryant should retire NOW. Today. He should fuck off in his Ducati and go write thoughtful journal entries or something.
But if he did that, marketers wouldn’t have their required calendar year of lead time to ideate and hold focus groups and produce the perfect, somber, sepia-toned Sprite ad to honor one of the least endearing athletes in modern sports history. Look at this fucking piece of direct mail they handed out in LA yesterday:
As someone who used to work in advertising, I can promise you that header font was chosen over the course of eighteen grueling conference calls dating back to 2012. And what of that strange symbol at the bottom? Is it a sign of the OCCULT?! No, of course not. No, that’s a fucking logo. Eighteen more conference calls. I’ll let pseudo-mammal Darren Rovell explain:
WARMS THE COCKLES, does it not? So many memories of campaigns past. I remember the first time I took my children to see Kobe on a Nutella label. But wait! There’s a story behind that logo. And by story, I mean “brand identity clearly written by a 35-year-old copywriter.” Here’s Kobe regurgitating all the proper talking points to the AP:
“Hero and villain, it’s a mixture of both,” Bryant said in the interview with The Associated Press. “People are so complicated. It’s never one thing or the other. It’s always a mixture of both things. Certain moments can define you as one thing. Monday, you may be a villain. Tuesday, you may be a hero. It’s always an up-and-down thing.”
So true. One day, you’re throwing cum-stained shirts at a police officer. The next day, you’re buying turkeys for starving orphans. Everyone is complicated like that!
These retirement tours have to end. They are endless, boring, contrived, and completely out of step with reality. It’s only November. I’m supposed to give a shit about Kobe Bryant retiring when he’s got five AWFUL months of urinating on teammates to go? Were the titles and MVP awards not enough formal adulation? Kobe Bryant built his entire career copying Michael Jordan’s moves and psychopathy, with NONE of the charm. (Even that stupid poem bites off Jordan’s retirement.) Why should I celebrate this nutjob’s willful blindness to reality, with his moron coach aiding and abetting it? If anything, Kobe Bryant deserves to finish out his career on some Siberian outpost, dragging his leprous body parts behind him just so he can deny a teammate an open look at the basket.
I’ve said it before: if you want to retire, retire. This instant. If you’ve already announced the end, then the end has already come. Everything afterward is painful and unnecessary. Steve Spurrier quit on the spot this season, and you know what? It takes balls to quit like a coward. It takes balls to risk scrutiny and finally admit, “You know what? I can’t do this,” and walk away, without pre-planning your own season-long ticker tape parade. We’re going to spend the rest of this season whitewashing Kobe Bryant’s legacy for no good reason. He should go home and leave us all alone forever. It’s what that asshole deserves.
Top photo via AP