When Kobe Bryant left the podium on Saturday afternoon, one reporter said, "There should be a two drink minimum for this."
Bryant's comedic side has been been on full display these NBA Finals, with the league's most valuable player using this stage as if he were auditioning for a 10-minute spot at The Laugh Factory or The Improv. After almost every humorous answer, you start waiting for a laugh track or a drummer to punctuate the punchline.
It started two days after Game 1, when Bryant did an interview session with the media that could've rivaled the opening monologue of Jay Leno or David Letterman. Here is some of the best of Bryant through this series.
His thoughts on Vladimir Radmanovic, Ronny Turiaf, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom and D.J. Mbenga wearing Kobe's Nike shoes: "Well, they all have an interest in jumping over cars. It intrigues them, so they wear the shoes."
Kobe on the pressure of the NBA Finals: "Well, I'd much rather have the pressure of this moment as opposed to having the pressure of deciding which swim trunks I'm going to wear in Bora Bora, the Gucci ones or the Yves Saint Laurent ones."
On whether his teammates, like Pau Gasol, were physical enough for the Celtics: "You run into Perkins and Pau in an alley, you're probably going to go Pau's direction."
How he would compare rivalries today versus the game in the '80s and even the '90s just in terms of hatred: "You know, I've heard stories in the past of them coming here and not getting room service and stuff like that. I mean, my room service is cool. You know, I got the nice apple pie with the ice cream on top, Ã¡ la mode. I didn't even ask for the ice cream but they hooked me up."
Then, there was right after the Lakers almost came back from a 24-point fourth-quarter deficit in Game 2.
On what he told his teammates during timeouts in the fourth quarter: "Get our, beep, A in gear. Play beep harder, a bunch of other beeps. It's beep, beep, beep, beep, beep. Eddie Murphy Raw times ten."
Then came his classic act after Game 4, when the Lakers blew a 24-point lead and lost 97-91.
On how his team plans to bounce back from the loss: "Whine about it tonight, a lot of wine, a lot of beer, a couple shots, maybe like 20 of them, digest it, get back to work tomorrow. Nothing you can do."
Bryant explaining the loss: "We just wet the bed. A nice big one, too. One of the ones you can't put a towel over. It was terrible."
On Saturday, Bryant was back at it, using the time after the Lakers' collapse in Game 4 to produce some new material.
On how reading Harry Potter to his little daughters, Natalia and Gianna, has helped him the past two days: "They just wanted me to read to them, and I swear, it was awesome. [Harry Potter] had more problems dealing with Voldemort than what we have dealing with the media and the Celtics."
On being viewed as scary on the court: "Every time I look in the mirror I scare the [bad word] out of myself."
On what he did to motivate his teammates before Game 5: "I borrowed Phil's peace pipe. We had a big kumbaya meeting."
Thank you, Kobe. "I was joking about the peace pipe thing, too, seriously. So not serious."
Oh, we know. Ba-dup-ting!
The common refrain from most reporters here is, what's up with Kobe, comedian?
I have to admit that it is unusual to hear Kobe go all Chris Rock on us, but this isn't the first time. Unfortunately for the Lakers, this reminds me of the 2004 NBA Finals between the Lakers and the Detroit Pistons. Bryant rolled out the jokes with such regularity, that it was obvious that something was wrong.
I feel the same way with these Finals, in which the Lakers were the overwhelming favorite, but never lived up to the hype. Those finals had Shaquille O'Neal, who was built to entertain, but the Lakers were dealing with some major chemistry issues at the time, and it seemed that humor was the only way to get through it.
After the Lakers lost Game 1 to the Pistons, O'Neal lightened the mood with a long rant about how he didn't need any words of encourgement to get going. "It's no time to be, 'You need to do this, you need to do that.' We know what we have to do. I know I have to get up in the morning and put my underwear on first and [then] my pants. I don't need people to tell me that."
O'Neal was later asked what kind of underwear he wore. Shaq leaned into the microphone and said, "Thongs!"
The place erupted with laughter. But it was only a short time later, when Bryant followed O'Neal on the podium and explained how the Lakers could lose to such an inferior foe (supposedly) in the Pistons. "You can probably blame it on the thong thing had on. It kind of traumatized everybody in the locker room."
The jokes kept coming, right along with the losses for the Lakers in that series. Even on the brink of their elimination, the Lakers kept it up.
With his team trailing 3-1 against the Pistons, Bryant laughed about shooting just 32 percent in the previous two games. "Well, I could be shooting 20 percent," Bryant said.
What does Bryant's comedy routine mean now? Only that if you are a Laker fan, you should be worried. It's not a good sign when Kobe Bryant does stand up. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from doing other things, because there really is nothing funny about getting beat.
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