Mr. Bookworm cannot stand the fluff pieces that are an integral part of Olympic coverage. On Saturday night, therefore, when NBC switched from Michael Phelp’s history breaking gold medal to an interview with Kobe Bryant, Mr. Bookworm immediately switched off the television. I’m now quite sorry he did. Kobe may be a multi-million dollar celebrity, but it turns out he’s also a good, old-fashioned patriot:
Collinsworth [from NBC]: Tell the story when you first got your USA uniform.
Kobe: Well I had goosebumps and I actually just looked at it for awhile. I just held it there and I laid it across my bed and I just stared at it for a few minutes; just because as a kid growing up this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball.
Collinsworth: Where does the patriotism come from inside of you? Historically, what is it?
Kobe: Well, you know it’s just our country, it’s… we believe is the greatest country in the world. It has given us so many great opportunities, and it’s just a sense of pride that you have; that you say “You know what? Our country is the best!”
Collinsworth: Is that a ‘cool’ thing to say, in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you’re fighting for the red, white and blue? It seems sort of like a day gone by(?)
Kobe: No, it’s a cool thing for me to say. I feel great about it, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I mean, this is a tremendous honor.
Is it only me or does Collinsworth come across like a complete ass? He reminds me of a teenager trying to embarrass someone into backing off of an opinion by warning him he won’t be seen as “cool” (and this is entirely separate from the fact that Collinsworth himself apparently thinks that it’s beneath him to love his country).
Kobe, fortunately, had a more sense than the overpaid NBC talking head. This is a great country and it does offer amazing opportunities. I mean, heck, in what other place or time do you become a beloved multi-millionaire for tossing a ball into a hoop? Kobe’s right that it’s completely cool (and honorable) to express gratitude to a nation that makes these opportunities possible, that it’s immature and ungrateful to try to intimidate someone into backing off from that kind of honorable sense of appreciation and patriotism.