Lakers great Kobe Bryant confronted Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the start of last week’s jam-packed Lakers victory parade and added a whole new dimension to the day’s festivities….
(The parade got off to a late start.) The cause of the hold-up was occurring adjacent to the locker room, where Kobe was refusing to ride on the City Council bus because the mayor was to ride on it. At the same time, the mayor, the consummate spotlight thief, was refusing to get on the City Council bus unless he got on with Kobe. Kobe loudly denounced the mayor in phrases that started with “I don’t like the …” and ended with “I’m not going to let him pimp my popularity!”
The impasse ended and the parade started after Kobe got on the team bus and the mayor was sneaked onto the same bus behind Kobe’s back by a couple of his teammates. As the team bus approached Georgia Street, it was greeted by about 100 city workers who had labored throughout the previous day and night preparing the Coliseum for the rally. The bus stopped in front of them and the hard-working crew went ballistic for the team and shouted and cheered like they’d lost their minds. Then the mayor popped up from among the players and waved to the group, which suddenly turned silent, as if a spigot had been turned off.
Later at the rally inside the Coliseum, Villaraigosa introduced the players and when Kobe came out on stage he blew right past Villaraigosa and refused to shake his hand.
Mayor, here’s a tip: In a sphere where popularity equals power, Kobe is the most powerful man in Los Angeles. Be careful what battles you chose to wage. The hearts of Los Angeles belong to Kobe. You, not so much.