Kobe Bryant doesn’t care anymore. Ok, that’s a little extreme, but not by much. He really doesn’t care anymore about what haters think about him. Yes, there was a time when Bryant was marketed as the NBA’s babyface superstar, and he played that role as best as he could. During the late 90s and early 2000s, no star shined brighter than Kobe’s and he smiled through it all. But as he got older and players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant started to take on that spot, the Black Mamba transitioned into another position in the NBA. To borrow pro wrestling terminology, Kobe turned heel and decided to bash some people with a steel chair. In time, Kobe transformed into a cantankerous veteran who exhibits moments of uh, cantankerousness, but somehow still has the respect of his peers who came after him and the legends who came before him. The rings might have something to do with it or it could be just his sheer indomitable will to be the best, no matter the verbal collateral damage.
It is why he doesn’t mind dropping an f-bomb or two during a postgame interview. It is why he can call out Pau Gasol and refer to him as a “Black Swan” at will if he feels the big man isn’t carrying his weight. It’s why he can forever complain about the infamous 2005-06 NBA season when he should have won the MVP award for carrying the worst Laker team in the history of ever (Smush Parker) into the playoffs by just saying reciting the mess (Kwame Brown) he had to deal with (Dear God, Smush Parker). It is why it’s totally normal for him to have a Twitter viewing party of his 81-point game on its 7thanniversary and have the nerve to say he’s never watched the game and no one bats an eyebrow. And yet we love his total lack of self-awareness (Or is he actually aware of our awareness that he is not self-aware, therefore creating this image of un-self-awareness in an effort to make us aware that he is not self-aware, when really, he was aware all along? You’re welcome).
So just exactly how did Kobe get to this point? Since this is a sneaker blog and we have a contractual obligation to remain on-topic as much as possible, we scoured the Internet and examined his old sneaker commercials to see Kobe the way he was, the way he is and the way he will be. Unfortunately, some commercials were either lost to time or copyright violations, but at least we can get a fairly clear picture of Kobe’s evolution through the years.