Kobe and the Fellowship of the Rings: the other side of the Kobe Bryant myth

Kobe and the Fellowship of the Rings: the other side of the Kobe Bryant myth

Kobe and the Fellowship of the Rings

What are legends made of? Whether it is the classic epic or modern history, it is always the sense of witnessing something out of the ordinary, inhuman. In sport, this sensation is often accompanied by athletes capable of transcending the human physical limit, taking the breath away from the spectators who observe them ecstatic, incredulous. If in our country this veneration often manifests itself in football, overseas this aura of religious veneration hovers on the linoleum of the basketball rectangle, where unforgettable heroes challenge each other between dunks, impossible passes and shots capable of deciding the fate of a season. A battleground for legends, which is perfectly described by Jeff Pearlman in Kobe and the Fellowship of the Rings, a volume dedicated to one of the great names in modern basketball.

The name of Kobe Bryant is not only the heritage of basketball fans. His incredible talent, his almost maniacal mentality in becoming the very embodiment of the perfect player, have made him an idol, a symbol. Mamba Mentality has become a lifestyle, a philosophy, but as often happens, behind the legend there is a man, with all his frailties and his shadows. The tragic and sudden disappearance of Bryant in January 2020 shocked everyone, deprived us of an epic basketball figure, but for the sake of truth Jeff Pearlman in his Kobe and the company of the rings does not allow himself to be guided by a sense of mythology reverence, but it tells the truth of Bryant's life in that hotbed of talent that was the Los Angeles Lakers of the late 90s.

Kobe and the Fellowship of the Rings: the story of the man who became champion

These were years of revolution for American basketball, the historic cycle of the Chicago Bulls of Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Phil Jackson was coming to an end, with that Last Dance that has become a page of sports epic, also told in a Netflix documentary. At the end of a cycle, it is said, another begins, and many looked to the Pacific coast, on the other side of the States, where the Lakers had decided to rebuild a team that was not exactly ideal, focusing on young promises. Kobe Bryant, at the time, was not considered a basketball god as we remember him today, at his side there were figures who had reached the hearts of the public much more quickly.

One above all, the good giant Shaquille O'Neal, able to move from the linoleum of the playing field to the cinema, where he could not have the same luck. Jeff Pearlman does not just focus his attention on Bryant, but rightly contextualizes his growth, both human and professional, within one of the most famous teams in the NBA. We always talk about a jacket worn by another name from Olympus of sport, Magic Johnson, an athlete who retired for health reasons, returned to the field again but unable to touch the glories of his first sporting life again. How come we also talk about those who preceded Bryant? Because if you don't know the path of the team that welcomed the restless 17-year-old, you can't understand the environment in which he was formed.

Jeff Pearlman did not understand his Kobe and the company of the rings as a monologue on the figure of Bryant. Clearly, the myth of the basketball player attracts the curiosity of readers, thanks to Bryant's tendency to have always attracted attention, using means that are often unwelcome to his teammates and which also turned out to be double-edged weapons. Pearlman is respectful of Bryant's memory, but equally respectful of the reader, offering a series of direct evidence of the legendary basketball player's growth in the Lakers. A completely positive portrait does not emerge, like all great champions animated by an obsession, Bryant also lived his relationship with basketball in a personal way.

If Jordan lived everything in a personal way, as he usually repeats in The Last Dance, Kobe Bryant was driven by an excessive certainty, by the belief that he was always better than the others, even when, on balance, the truth was quite different. Pearlman in Kobe and the Fellowship of the Rings doesn't launch into rash judgments or ruthless criticisms, but he wants to offer the reader a sincere portrait of Kobe, Shaq and the other names that made the Lakers great. To do this, the writer relies on personal experiences and the search for statements of the period, also going through minor newspapers or interviewing people directly involved. Who do not skimp on certain harsh jokes or high-sounding praises, a variety of visions that leave the reader all the tools to develop his own opinion.

Pearlman, from him, limits himself to creating an ideal path to relive this epic . An agile, fun writing, which knows how to captivate not only the basketball fan, but also the casual reader, alternating intense descriptive moments, also investigating behind the scenes, with others in which it analyzes with attention and sensitivity the soul of the players. and their background. In the pages of Kobe and the Fellowship of the Rings there is not only the admiration for a key figure in basketball of the last decades, who has entered a pantheon that he shares with players of the caliber of Jabbar, Johnson, Bird, Jordan, but also a sincere passion for basketball, for everything that revolves around this world.

A piece of great NBA history

With the same vivacity, Pearlman tells the winning actions of a game and the jokes from O'Neal's barracks, he gives equal composure to the disappointments of discarded players and Bryant's stubbornness to train beyond all limits. There are no discounts for anyone, not even the dark legal chapters of the players are avoided, everything is taken and analyzed, to give the reader a portrait as truthful as possible of these athletes.

Kobe and the Fellowship of the Rings it is, essentially, a reading aimed at those who have a good knowledge of basketball. Ideal for those who have lived that world on television, those who grew up with the myth of the NBA and are familiar with certain technical aspects of the game and with the American social structure. Without these reading keys, Pearlman's book can be complicated in some passages in which this specific knowledge is required, breaking the rhythm of an otherwise dynamic and exciting reading. Pearlman's intent was to create the portrait of a legendary team and its top men, a will that finds its full form in Kobe and the company of the rings, a must-read for all basketball fans.

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