Let's get one thing straight, once and for all. I didn't decide to change my jersey number to 24 in order to not-too-slyly suggest that I'm better than MJ. I'm not saying I'm not, mind you, but that was never my intention, purely a coincidence. And it's not because Adidas, those fucking Judases, came up with the idiotic idea to re-release my old sneakers and call 'em "Crazy 8's." (Talk about vindictiveness!)
No, my decision to flip the digits stems from a chance encounter with Nicholas Cage's wife.
I met Nick at the Viper Room one night in late-February, 2006, his smoking hot Korean-American wife in tow. She's really talkative and enthusiastic about the sport, so naturally we hit it off. I mean, we had a nice convo. I certainly didn't want to have anal sex with her or anything. I certainly didn't want to do that.
(Shaq, on the other hand, woulda tapped that like the bathroom sink. I'm just saying.)
Anyway, Nick kept going on (and on, and on...) about his impressive comic book collection. He's got a copy of Action Comics no. 1, as if you care. I and Alice sure didn't, and when Nick went to the bathroom to clean off the cosmopolitan he mistakenly spilled on his rayon shirt (seriously, who the fuck wears rayon these days? If I wanted to see your nipples, Nicholas Cage, I'd go home and watch Con Air. I have it on HD DVD), we started talking about my favorite subject: Me.
Actually, we first started talking about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but when girly girl posited her theory that Snape is still good, and by killing Dumbledore he was protecting Malfoy from becoming evil, I had to change the subject. Women.
"You know, speaking of best-selling fantasy novels, I'm getting sorta sick of the LA spotlight. You must know how it is."
"Um, maybe," she responded.
"That's what I'm talking about! Finally, someone who shares my angst. There's a black cloud over this city. I need a change of scenery."
"So...where else is there?"
"New York, for one. No pressure there. Right?"
"I don't know. Hey, I think your cigar is out."
"And if not NY, then Boston's always an option. I'm sure the Boston sports media wouldn't criticize my every move like they do here."
"What's so special about Boston? They never have any movie premiers, not even a film festival. You'd be better off playing for the Nuggets. At least you could attend Sundance."
"Listen, the farther away I am from Colorado, the better."
"How about Toronto, then?"
"Are you shitting me? I don't wanna be big in Canada. Save that for Loverboy and Kraft Dinner."
"Well, Kobe," (I would be remiss if I didn't mention that at that moment she touched her earlobe, a telltale sign she wanted to sleep with me.) "It sounds like you don't know where you want to go."
"I really don't. Really, I don't," I said, knitting my brow and trying to look like Seth from The OC.
"It's clear that you want to go somewhere, though, right?"
"Definitely. I want to break free."
"Kobe, you need to convince yourself first. To do that, you have to send a subtle message."
"I'm not very good at subtlety, I must confess." Really, I'm not.
"You know what? Before a change of location, how about you change your jersey number? That's provocative, at least."
"It didn't work for Ron Artest."
"Nevermind. Keep talking."
"You know, in Korean the numer 24 is pronounced 'iysa,' (이사), which is also the verb for 'to move.' Maybe if you change your number to 24 it will be subversive, but not so much that your boss or agent or whoever will figure it out. And maybe it will give you strength."
I contemplated everything she had said.
"In Korean, 24 really means moving?"
"Yup," she affirmed. "And 18 means fuck."
"Good to know," I said, smiling, picturing what jersey number I was going to change Shaq's to on NBA 2K.
So there it is. I'm going to be traded, eventually. I'm leaving Lala Land. Let the record show that I never publicly bitched or moaned about it. Because I'm too classy. Have you seen me chew gum recently?
I just cerebrially blew your mind this time, didn't I?
PS - My sincere apologies to anyone who bought a no. 24 Los Angeles Lakers jersey. Silver lining: in about eight years you can wear it as a throwback, providing you're under thirty and haven't gotten obese since then.
PPS - I REALLY hope I get traded to Sacto. Just so for the next decade we can be called the Mamba Kings.
PPPS - I have no harsh words for Jerry Buss, Phillie Jax, or anyone else in the Lakers (dis)organization*. Not until my biography hits shelves, that is.
* Except for Jordan Farmar. That fucker's feet smell like Doritos, and all of his so-called freestyles are clearly not off the dome. Keep kickin' your writtens, Jordan. I'll see you at the All-Star Game.