I was a very active basketball blogger for most of 2005 ~ 2013 and when you write and think about basketball as much as I did there’s one guy you write and think about a lot about and that is Kobe Bryant. In and around that period which happened to coincide with the rise of YouTube and social media he would win 5 NBA Championships, numerous all star, nba 1st teams, defensive teams and all sorts of fantastic accolades. As such he wasn’t only on my mind but pretty much anyone who followed sports. Within that period Nike invited me to cover two of his visits in the Philippines the 2nd of which in 2011 was a special event to remember. Fans from all over converged onto BGC and Araneta to catch a glimpse. It was so special even veteran event organizers were stunned at the scale. I wasn’t just jostling for position with local press, there were people from Agency France Press, CNN, Chinese, Indian and Taiwanese press all occupying what little space we had to get a good shot.

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Kobe Experience Part III, 2 of 5 (Aka The Dreaded Adobo Question)

Ok taking off from the last post, the next day started with lunch and a 12nn press conference. Fantastic kudos is due the organisers because I still very clearly remember the mayhem of 2007  when the presscon was at a Makati Shangrila ballroom. There were at least 300 ~ 500 press, approximately ten times more than yesterday’s and the moment they opened the doors all hell broke loose and publications like Agency France Press, Kyodo News mixed with local networks rushed to the best spot they could and stayed there despite repeated requests by security and hotel staff to move. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were near scuffles as no one wanted to budge an inch and as a result we were delayed at least an hour. This time however it was smooth as silk. We all fit in Manila Pen’s Conservatory, a relatively small venue and he was in and out within an hour.

Now what follows is an amazing stroke of luck so pay attention. The moment I got into the Conservatory, I opted to plant my laptop on top of one of those circular tables at the side to just type up whatever I could hear of what he says. I already had a good photographer with me so I didn’t have to squeeze with the others and I had no plans of asking him questions since I was sure the other press would at least ask one or two intelligent ones worth publishing (although someone STILL insists on wasting time asking him if he’s tried adobo. WHY IN HELL do we keep asking foreigners to try adobo? It reeks of being unprepared to ask him more relevant questions, and there are many!).

At any rate, here I was busy in front of my laptop when I realized there wasn’t anyone beside me. Security had cordoned the photographers, then I realized why: Kobe was going to pass right in front me on his way towards the stage! The irony was inexplicable. Here I was assuming I’d be the farthest from him, when it turned out he was only going to be an arm’s length away. It occurred to me to try not to call attention to myself so they wouldn’t spot me and kick me out of there so I tried my best to blend in with the hotel’s wallpaper.

So it was all a matter of time until:

The quality of questions varied from the the logical, the expected and the (as a good friend describes it) asinine, in reference to the adobo question. Later on, he was asked the adobo question again at Araneta. If I had a nickel for every time a Pinoy asks a foreigner if he’s had adobo in lieu of more pertinent information I’d have a lot of nickels. We have just GOT to stop asking this question because neither the person asking, the person being asked and especially the reading and watching public really care about this, period.

Some of the more pertinent ones were:

  • Re KD and Rose to play in an exhibition game against Smart Gilas, and that he’s just as clueless about this as everyone, so at the moment let’s just classify that news as ‘rumour’.
  • He considers the game 7 between boston and LA to be the most challenging ever in his career. I remember that game clearly and can still remember the absolute look of anguish and joy in his face when they won. He wasn’t even playing well then and they were saved only by Artest’s heroics.
  • Re lockout: “Its a part of business and that’s what happens to global sports. I just want to see what happens. As players we have a responsibility to our fans.”
  • Asked to define greatness: “There is no way to define greatness. whether you are a doctor or lawyer its all in the preparation. Just preparation.
  • Re knees issue, procedures: “It is what it is, but i feel confident.
  • Re Italian influence: “It gave me a broader view of the world, enabled me to embrace other cultures. I grew up in an Italian school.

And so on.

The sound wasn’t too good where I was and besides the people around me were chatting ceaselessly so that made it all the more harder to write down notes. At any rate I learned a lot of important stuff. Just the quashing of the Kobe + Rose + KD against Smart Gilas rumour was good enough copy.

It was amazing to see how excited everyone was. Even the waiters and hotel staff struggled to concentrate on their work and keep from giggling like little schoolgirls even before he even came in the room. Everyone was so excited and we had all worked ourselves to a tizzy. It was an amazing experience and we we still had 2 more events to cover after this.

I need to wrap this up right now to get on with other work. It looks like I won’t be able to finish this all in 2 posts so I’m assuming I’ll do 5, writing when I can. We’re off to an Iloilo vacay tom (July 15th), so I’ll try to write when I find internet. Later!

The Kobe Experience Part III, 1 of 5

I’ve had the incredible fortune of having covered Kobe in 2007, 2009 and again this year. Every year I wonder how he’s going to top the last one. Turns out I need not have worried because last night was an awesome experience the local basketball world will not soon forget. I will try my best to write about the 2 day experience of being with the press as we ‘picked up’ Kobe from the airport, attended his press conference at the Manila Pen, watched him train (or at least, try to train) a few kids at Gawad Kalinga Taguig, and finally watched him play with a UAAP Nike Selection vs. Smart Gilas.

I got tons of pics, and my memory’s still fresh ready to be typed up. But before all that, here’s a nice teaser to whet your appetite just in case you’re not feeling it yet.

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Kobe Coming Back

Press Release as follows:

Nike brings Kobe Bryant back to Manila

June 2011 – Nike Philippines announced today that Kobe Bryant will return to Manila for the third time on July 13, 2011 to kick off his five-city tour. Manila will be his first stop before moving on to Seoul and various cities in China.

“Nike is proud to bring Kobe Bryant back to Manila. In his last two visits, Kobe was able to connect with a lot of young Filipino athletes, encouraging them to fulfill their dreams through sport like he did,” said Nike Philippines Country Marketing Manager, Mae Dichupa. “As part of our commitment to basketball and young Filipino athletes, Nike continuously develops campaigns that will encourage them to reach for their sports dreams. Kobe’s visit is a testament to this. Though very brief, his one-day visit will definitely inspire Filipino athletes who look up to him.”

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Kobe Visit Pics Post 3 of 3

Man it’s been busy as heck and this post is way delayed, so let’s just get it done and wrap this baby up. Here are some of my remaining pics of Kobe’s visit.

So as I mentioned last time we went ahead of everyone else to Ultra (Philsports Arena) and this is what greeted us, empty stands and the hosts just hanging out.

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