Me x Kobe Bryant x Dear Basketball


Kobe Bryant | shot by Ian Morrison for Flaunt


Whenever I interview someone who’s incredibly well known and popular, my goal is an obvious one: Find something new out. Most people know this person’s general life story and highlights.

So my question for you—after you read this interview I had with Kobe Bryant for Flaunt Magazine—is did you learn anything new about him? I think I dug out about–hmmm–three intriguing nuggets. Each third of the story has one.

Talking to Kobe and Disney animation legend Glen Keane (he drew Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast!) about their Oscar-winning short Dear Basketball was a treat. I’m a huge Kobe fan. Players who entered the NBA in the mid-‘90s were the ones I watched bloom into stars and Kobe was my favorite. The skill, the passion, the talent, the Hip-Hop meets Air Jordan 2.0 vibes… He was dope. So much so that I wouldn’t play as anyone but the Lakers on NBA Live or 2K from about 1997 to maybe 2010 or so when I stopped being a consistent gamer.

It was difficult to keep my cool, but thankfully I don’t think they could tell. The interview  went well and writing the piece was a breeze. We rapped about Michael Jackson, storytelling, discovering your life’s purpose as a youth and more. Give it a read.


A story about the photo shoot for this Flaunt piece:

During the photo shoot for this interview, I was talking to his Dear Basketball publicist  about one of my goals for the new year. We were just days into 2018 and knowing that I closed ’17 eating wild and glorious amounts of food and sweet treats, my goal was to lose 15 pounds in January. Kobe overheard me. About 10 minutes later, he walked over and looked me up and down—sneakers to the longest strand of hair on my head.

“You’re trying to lose weight?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said. I told him that I’d looked up Dwyane Wade’s weight (we’re about the same height), saw that he’s 220-ish and thought I could get there with some discipline. Kobe asked how I was feeling so far. Cutting back on eating garbage is pretty easy, I explained. But the 4-5 gym workouts a week that I had picked up were making me sore and tired as hell.

A smirk crept onto his face as his shoulders shrugged, like a two-piece combo of indifference and hilarity just presented itself. “Your body will get used to it,” he said through a light chuckle. “Yeah,” I responded. “True.” We shook hands. He left. On my way home, I too laughed. That was such a Kobe response.

Kobe probably never complained about the temporary pain he endured during the thousands of hours he’d spent training in gyms, running on tracks and recovering from numerous injuries. He knew it was part of the process. A little work and pain now, a trophy later. That’s a fair exchange. I took it all in while sitting in the back of my Lyft headed home, grinning ear to ear. “Kobe didn’t give a fuck about my gym pain because he’s a bad-ass and bad-asses aren’t trying to hear that shit,” I thought. “That’s why I love that dude.” Then I snapped out of it. Haha, what a nerd I am sometimes.

By the way, I lost that 15 pounds. Again, go read my Kobe story.



Vindication? Kevin Durant Wasn’t Trying to Prove Anything to You

On Monday night Kevin Durant’s 2017 NBA Champion t-shirt was damp with champagne. The goggles that protected his eyes from bottle corks and alcohol drops dangled from his neck. A smile as true as his jumpshot sparkled from ear to ear. He had just won his first title and was the series’ MVP.

Sitting in for a post-game SportsCenter interview with ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt, he was asked what he now sees in himself after accomplishing such a feat. “Nothing,” he responded. “This doesn’t complete me. I already knew who I was before this even happened. I’m going to continue to be the person I was yesterday.”

On the surface, this answer could seem like complete bullshit. Like, dude, YOU’RE AN NBA CHAMPION, THE BEST PLAYER ON THE BEST TEAM IN THE BEST BASKETBALL LEAGUE ON EARTH!

But on second thought, I understand why he’d say that. Today and, I presume, throughout the rest of the summer, many will write their think-pieces and essays about how—at last!—Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder last year as a free agent to join the Golden State Warriors (the team that kicked him out of the playoffs that year) has been vindicated.

The idea is that his decision to go to a better team, one likely to go on several future championship runs with or without him, wouldn’t have been valid or accepted by the the peanut gallery unless he performed spectacularly (he did) and won this year. And like I briefly noted last summer, that’s dumb. Mostly because the man made a decision for himself. As the author of his life story, no one but him has the right to put their pen on his pages.

Kevin Durant, The Warriors and Dialogue With a Hater

Sure, Kevin could have done things the “hero” way and continued to toil and chip away year after year in a small town as half of the one-two punch Russell Westbrook completed. Maybe they would have gotten to the finals again (OKC had been before in 2012, and lost to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat). Maybe. But KD decided the next chapter of his life would go in another direction.

Then came the ridicule. People called him weak, soft, pathetic even. All because he didn’t do things how XYZ legendary veteran who may or may not have won a champion by staying “loyal” to the team that drafted them or was on a team where they were one of a maximum two star players (ie: Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller…).


Hell, even Nike released an ad right after his Finals-sealing Game 5 victory that addressed the naysayers—a minute’s worth of pundits arguing about Durant’s supposed mental and physical flaws and ending with him a champ in a confetti storm. “DEBATE THIS,” it closes. A classic, well-articulated “Fuck you, hater!” without being too crass for network TV.

So I totally get why Kevin would say he’s the same guy he was before the locker room bubbly bath. It’s a mix self-assured confidence and not wanting to let us know he gave a shit about anyone else’s opinions. Though he might admit later that he heard the chatter and that it motivated him a tad bit, I doubt Durant will ever say that he ever felt that he needed to be vindicated for his controversial choice.

If anything KD probably felt that he made the right decision after training camp and a few games with the Warriors during Fall/Winter 2016, when he was enjoying the music that booms out of practice facility speakers while Coach Kerr is running through Xs and Os. Or when he realized that playing for Golden State really is as fun as it looks on TV, with Steph Curry joyously splashing threes launched just inside half court and eagerly throwing him no-look passes on the next possession. Or when he got emphatic encouragement from forward Draymond Green.


Kevin Durant wasn’t waiting for anybody’s approval. He gave himself the okay, And now he’s the champion he always wanted to be. Critics can say they don’t like how his story played out. But there’s no debating that.

Make Air Jordans Sexy Again


On any given day, you might catch me in a pair of Air Jordans. I just bought my second pair of Flu Game XIIs. I wore black VIIs to work on Tuesday. I was wearing black VIs when my girl beat me twice at HORSE on Saturday. My shooting is currently ultra un-Mike-like, unfortunately. By the way, here she is draining a jumper in Nike FlyKnits:

All that is to say I’m a big fan of Air Jordans. But here’s the crusher: I haven’t truly loved any new pair that’s come out since the XVIs.

Yesterday Jordan Brand unveiled the XXXIs. They’re cool. But like each pair that’s dropped since 2001’s XVIs, I’m not planning on getting a pair. That’s 15 years of “Meh.” A decade and a half of, “Not really feeling their latest, but I’ll be looking out for the retros.”

Air Jordan 31

The Air Jordan XXXI


They’ve got “Banned” written on the soles, because  the original Jordan 1s (which the XXXIs are inspired by) were banned by the NBA due to their black and red color-way not properly matching Michael Jordan’s Bulls uniform. There’s more about that in this story here.

From the look and description of the XXXIs, they appear to be amazing performance sneakers. They probably are a delight to run and jump in. To make hard stops and defensive slides with. But they’re not sleek. And they damn sure aren’t sexy. Look at the XIs, the 1s. I can’t imagine Michael Jordan–whose one of several nicknames was “The Black Cat”–wearing these. They’re too chubby for a cat. Gone are the days, I suppose, of Jordans that you want to wear as much off the court as you do on. (Why is the Jumpman on the back heel so big?) I don’t want to wear the latest Js with my jeans. Nah.


Air Jordan 5 Retro OG | Metallic Silver | Out July 23, 2016

And that’s a bummer. But hey, the retros are still booming. The 1s will have their umpteenth re-release this September. The OG Vs drop in a matter of days. I want both. So while I hope Jordan hires one of these lux designers that are jumping ship from couture houses to make Air Jordans street-style sexy again, I’ll settle for blasts from the past.

Now pardon me. I’m have to iCal sneaker release dates.