Time to introduce a fun, hopefully semi-regular feature entitled “Fan Mail.”

This first installment comes via voice mail from, well, he didn’t man up and leave his name, so let’s call him Captain Courageous.

“Yeah, Kaylee, this is a true Laker fan,” he begins. “I read your little comments about Kobe Bryant. If you think he’s overrated, then you obviously know even less about basketball than you do about hockey. Maybe you should stick to writing obituaries or classified ads, because that’s obviously where your talent lies.”

Hmm, where to start? Just for future reference, Cap, the name is pronounced KAL-ee. It’s a Finnish name. Kind of like Calle Johansson, a former NHL player whose name I’ve encountered once or twice in my limited pursuit of hockey knowledge.

The funny thing is, I was holding back in my disdain for His Airballness. Elsewhere in his diatribe, Captain even dared liken Bryant to Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen is a more exact comparison, since Bryant hasn’t won a thing in his life without Shaquille O’Neal clogging the middle and drawing a triple-team all night.

I wish Bryant were good as his distant admirer believes. Then I could have been watching Game 6 of Lakers-Suns on TNT at the witching hour Saturday morning instead of the “Shaft” remake of 2000.

Which was an appropriate choice for alternative programming, now that I think about it, because Samuel L. Jackson attempting to channel Richard Roundtree is as butt-ugly as Bryant impersonating Jordan.

Bryant would be better off emulating Magic Johnson. Or Steve Nash, who outplayed him in every sense of the word in that one-sided series and probably will finish his season being fitted for a championship ring. Or Jason Kidd, who averaged a triple-double for the Nets in their ouster of the Raptors.

Don’t just accept my rudimentary knowledge of a game I’ve been following passionately since Kobe was a devious gleam in Jellybean’s eye, though. Round up a hundred coaches and ask them if they would rather work with Bryant or Nash, Bryant or Kidd, Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki, Bryant or Tim Duncan, Bryant or Baron Davis, Bryant or LeBron James, Bryant or Chauncey Billups, Bryant or

You get the picture.

History will remember Bryant as a glory hounding malcontent who was blessed to share the floor for a while with one of the greatest centers who ever lived. Oh, he’ll hang around for a few more years. Jerry Buss might even surround him with other glory hounding malcontents. I hear Kevin Garnett is dying to repeat history and escape Minnesota for Hollywood.

It won’t amount to a teardrop in the ocean. Which is a target Kobe Bryant could occasionally hit from inside 20 feet.

My deepest sympathies on the Lakers’ loss, Mr. C. Consider this my first obituary.


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