*The fearsome Black Mamba was more like a friendly garden snake Friday while promoting his forthcoming Showtime documentary to TV critics in Beverly Hills.
“Sorry I’m late,” said Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant upon his arrival 35 minutes after the scheduled start time. “I was out looking for a head coach.”
“Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” due this fall from Bryant’s production company Mamba Media, is billed as an “in-depth look” at the basketball player’s life, motivations and challenges while preparing for the 2014-15 NBA season. Bryant and his Mamba Media partner Stephen Espinoza are executive producers alongside Gotham Chopra, who is also directing.
The film is still in production, but a sizzle reel played for critics showed the Lakers standout on and off the court, including the drama surrounding his knee injury that foiled his 2013-14 season.
During the panel, Bryant was uncharacteristically open, even graciously answering the handful of inevitable questions about the Lakers’ current mess.
“We’re still trying to figure the roster out…we have some pieces that we’ve added to it, but we don’t have a coach in place yet,” he said. “So we don’t know what system we’re going to be operating out of. …Once we have all that assembled then that’s when I start really going to work and looking at the individuals on the team and how we can work together, and do more than what anybody expects us to do.”
“I know they kinda said no Laker questions, but honestly, I think that’s part of the entire damn story, anyway,” he said.
Bryant also expressed frustration over the team’s failed attempts to land Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol, and said he is like other athletes whose fear of failure often taints their transition into the corporate world once basketball is over.
“I’m scared, too. In times like this you really have to lean on muses and mentors going forward,” he said, citing the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Nike CEO Mark Parker and advertising exec Dan Wieden, who coined the Nike tagline “Just Do It.” Kobe said it’s important to “really speak to them, and pick their brain…and learn.”
The critics let out a rare burst of laughter when he said the in-the-room marketing of his BodyArmor Super Drink product – of which his Kobe Inc. owns 10 percent – was “cheesy as hell.”
“I don’t even know who decided to put a BodyArmor on everybody’s table,” he said. “That’s not good branding.”
Below, Bryant assured us that his role as both executive producer and subject of “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” is not a conflict of interest, and that the film will indeed offer a warts-and-all portrayal of his life.