In 2006, director Spike Lee created an astonishing record of the cataclysmic effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans with his epic award-winning documentary, When the Levees... See full summary »
I watched Kobe Doin' Work last night. Probably wouldn't have bothered except for Spike Lee's involvement. There's some interesting stuff and comes close to a basketball insight once or twice.
But far too many problems: First off, Kobe tries real hard to be likable and clearly he sees his voice-over comments as a PR exercise in image control. He's just too spotlighted and media-aware to really seem genuine. He also tends to talk down to the viewer, apparently assuming casual fans are watching, and so when he gets close to providing details he stops short (ie he talks about options and execution but almost never gets into specifics). Lastly, Kobe does want you to think that he co-runs the team with Phil Jackson (Kobe inserts himself back into the game in the 2nd Q of this game), mostly joshing about how he and Phil often share the same thoughts and understanding of the game. But why not add extra commentaries on the DVD. Would be nice to have a Phil Jackson track, a Hubie Brown track, maybe even a Bruce Bowen track as well, etc.
Secondly, it's just one game with a zillion cameras on Kobe. I really think he loved all this attention but it distracted him and hurt his play. He seems really self-conscious on the court and especially on the bench.
Third, since it's just one game, they chose an important late season clash with the Spurs. But Ginobili was out and the Lakes blowout the Spurs in the 3rd Q, so Kobe sits the whole 4th Q. Ooooops. Also, with Bowen defending him, Kobe mainly acts as a decoy. And as a final insult, Kobe turns out to have a bad game, with uncharacteristic turnovers, fouls, and missed shots -- with a handful of Kobe moments sprinkled in.
Another problem is that it is the second to last game from two seasons ago (April 2008)-- the year the Lakes lost to the Celts, instead of the championship season last year -- so it's much less immediate now and the personnel is fairly different. You've got Kurt and Bowen, Sasha and Vlad. No Ariza nor Artest. At least Fish and Pau are there. But I'd much rather see an early season game from last season, which would seem more immediate and relevant than Game 81 from two seasons back.
And since the camera focuses on Kobe in isolation or only with the defenders/offenders nearby, we rarely see plays develop, the ball, scores, etc. Actually the context including the score is largely missing. Sometimes I watch a game and will just focus on one matchup for a few plays or keep an eye on say interior D or whatnot. You learn stuff that way, but you also miss other parts of the game. For a whole game, iso-ed on one player is wearisome. A more interesting approach might have been to show perhaps the entire 3rd Q as broadcast on TV, and then re-show the 3rd Q as seen by isolating Kobe.
So as luck would have it, Spike picked the wrong game, against the wrong opponent, in the wrong season, and the approach wasn't creative enough. I'd rec watching When the Levees Broke instead. And the next time you see the Lakers on TV, sit close, and set your eyes on Kobe only on both ends as much as possible and you've probably got a better game and better understanding, since you can shift your focus to the action as you choose.
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