Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kobe Bryant shouldn't have jumped over that car

On a recent day off, the best player in the NBA decided to jump over a sports car coming at him fast enough to end his life -- much less his career.

Kobe Bryant filmed a spot that hit the internet last week. It begins with him fiddling with a camera and setting up his jump, all while teammate Ronnny Turiaf is begging him not to try it. Turiaf pleads with Bryant that the playoffs are coming up and his team needs him.

"I got this, I got this!" Bryant replies after holding up a new lightweight signature sneaker and spinning it around so we get a good look at the Nike logo. "Do you trust your boy? Just sit back and enjoy the show."

After that, Bryant calls for the silver Aston Martin convertible to come flying at him. He squats down, picking his feet up and down in quick steps. Then Bryant appears to leap over the car. You can even see where the car's shadow crosses over his.

It's very, very convincing.

And when he lands, a mad celebration ensues, with chest bumps and hand slaps and Bryant reminding viewers to, you know, not try this at home.

The clip was filmed March 31, one day after the Lakers beat Washington 126-120 and two days before they beat Portland 104-91. It got more than 100,000 views on YouTube within 24 hours of launching.

But here's the problem.

People will try things they see on TV or the internet, particularly when it's done by a guy like Bryant, who is idolized by millions. Kids across the country have been severely injured trying to imitate some of the stunts seen on YouTube done by teens who jump off the sides of buildings and call themselves "Real Life Spidermen" or street acrobats.

R&B singer R. Kelly has a new look these days. He's painted his braided hair bright gold. It's not the best of looks, but just today I saw three guys at Wal-Mart with the same style.

I can only hope no foolish young person is planning to "just be like Kobe" and have his buddy come flying at him in a silver Corolla tomorrow.

Of course, Bryant's stunt wasn't real, but the digitally enhanced spot doesn't come with any disclaimers. Thankfully, Nike doesn't plan to put this "ad" on TV.

Nike rep Kejuan Wilkins told me Monday that "it is something we worked with Kobe on. It's created to live on the web, more of a viral campaign," he said.

Wilkins said the NBA All-Star was never in danger during filming. I never really thought so, but I just question why he decided to make this "ad" in the first place.

This season, Bryant has done a lot of things right. He's averaging 28.4 points per game, good for second in the NBA, plus 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists. His team has the best record in the Western Conference. I can see the Lakers reaching their first NBA final this season since Shaquille O'Neal left four years ago.

This is the year Kobe deserves to win his first league MVP. Making this film, however, was a very bad decision.

After a recent game, Kobe was asked about it by a local LA TV station. He responded with a big grin, apparently happy -- and awfully naïve -- about what he'd done.

"It's Hollywood baby," Bryant finally said. "What do you expect out here? If Rambo can take on a whole army, I can jump over an Aston Martin."

Yes, Kobe, you can jump over an Aston Martin, but the problem is some of your fans might think they can, too.

Langston Wertz Jr: 704-358-5133; lwertz@charlotteobserver.com Langston Wertz Jr.


sfflc said...

It's called PARENTING, something too lacking in today's society. Somehow I don't think your kids, LW, would ever think about it, nor would mine.
If we don't supervise and become involved in their lives, then they will raise themselves and do the stupid things that come to mind.

7 Bates said...

When I was a kid, I wanted to fly like Superman - so I got a complete superman suit, down to the red undies themselves, and jumped off a dumpster *believing" I could fly. Duh.

Superman wasn't even real - of course, so a real human being like Kobe could up the "maybe I could do it" factor even more for a kid. I totally get your point.

The problem here is, I made these decisions. Personal accountability does have a place in our society. Stupid kids die, doing stupid things, all the time. Adults too. If we made it so every role model in the world only did safe things, we'd live in a horribly boring place where Superman just talked the bad guys out of trying to blow up Metropolis.

I'd prefer not to live in a nanny state where Kobe couldn't make a video like this. Oh, and I have kids who are easily influenced by what they consume in the media, and I let them play out side - unsupervised and encouraged to "break a leg".