Kobe Bryant's scowl or bearing of the teeth or whatever you want to call it has become a hot topic during the NBA Finals.
Bryant, his teammates and even Orlando Magic players are getting peppered with questions about Bryant's new "look," so to speak. We saw its genesis against the Nuggets in the Western Conference finals, but it's been taken to a new level in the Finals.
Game 1 was the look's official coming-out party, and some are putting it right up there with Michael Jordan's tongue-wag and Magic Johnson's smile.
"I think this is the first year it's been prominent, extremely noticeable where it stands out," teammate Derek Fisher said. "Those guys were year after year after year in the NBA Finals and then really important games in NBA history. It's starting to get up there, though, with performances like (Thursday night). It's starting to get up there. But I don't know about comparing it to those two guys."
One thing's for sure: Bryant is playing with an intensity and ferocity we haven't seen from him the postseason -- or any postseason, for that matter.
"You know, I just want it so bad," Bryant said. "The last two times we've been to the Finals (vs. Detroit and vs. Boston) we came up short. This time around we're really locked in."
And being locked in apparently just doesn't mean games. Bryant said at home his kids are calling him "Grumpy" from the Seven Dwarfs, and his attitude and demeanor at practice also has been pretty serious.
"He's been very quiet and focused," Phil Jackson said about Bryant's behavior at practice. "I think that we went through two levels of these playoffs where I was always on the team about letting pressure off, and then we'd come back and somehow or another we couldn't manufacture the energy necessary.
"I think he just really took that aspect of it as a serious element of where you have to go with these playoffs. You have to stay driven and motivated, and I think it's really important that he takes that leadership role for this team."