Kobe Bryant Loves Martial Arts, Obviously

11 10 2010

Last Friday, The Painted Area unleashed their preview of 2010-11 basketball books. It’s an exhaustive and comprehensive look at a few juicy tomes that should have all of literate hoopdom in a tizzy. Read the whole thing, or at least skim it. You won’t regret it.

In addition to a few titles of pure awesomeness (buy our book!), the preview features a few curiosities. Like, oh, a Chinese-only book about Kobe Bryant’s love of martial arts:

After Bryant’s promotional tour of China this summer, Global Times also reported the following about 24:

    Bryant noted his approach to basketball has been shaped by Chinese influences. He first heard about the concept of Qi, often translated as “life force” or “energy flow,” while in high school. He found later that Qi was a strong element in the martial arts of Bruce Lee, someone Bryant greatly admired while growing up as a kid in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

    “It seems Bruce Lee has nothing to do with basketball. To me it has everything to do with basketball. There are a lot of similarities,” he told his fans. Besides Lee’s close attention to detail and control over his emotions, it was his philosophical approach to martial arts that captured his interest.

    Bryant pointed out that Lee approached his opponents with no rigid set structure. While playing basketball, this “formlessness” is very difficult to guard and even more difficult to stop.

Most people watch Bruce Lee movies and think “Wow, that was really awesome when he kicked those two dudes at once. Also, why is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar allergic to sunlight?” But not Kobe. Where others see only really cool fights, he finds an entire way of living and playing the sport he loves. In terms of people taking kung fu too seriously, he ranks right up there with RZA. Except I don’t take Kobe for the kind of person who listens to a lot of Wu-Tang.

In a lot of ways, his stance is pretty mockable for its complete sincerity. In our modern world, we typically want some degree of irony from our athletes, or at least a sense that they’re in on jokes about them. Think of Shaq, Dwight Howard, or even LeBron James back when he was doing “The LeBrons.” Kobe, on the other hand, seems pathologically unable to joke about himself. In this case, he’s even turned one of his interests into the basis for an entire book. It’s all just a tad ridiculous.

On the other hand, it’s somewhat honorable that he’s being so forthcoming about his own nerdiness. I’m not sure he sees it that way — and the book wouldn’t be published if he didn’t think it’d be an effective marketing tool — but this is Kobe being himself for all to say. It’s goofy, but he’s willing to put himself out there and deal with the criticism. That deserves respect, if not total acceptance.

Also, why is this book not being released in the United States? I’m sure it would sell enough copies to offset the printing costs, even if people only buy it as a joke. Surely it can do just as well as The Wu-Tang Manual.