NEW YORK — Since Kobe Bryant was an adolescent he has been consumed with visions of majesty.
His definitive dream is to arrive a bit late at a packed auditorium or a theater, say, where the Academy Awards are in progress, and receive an unrehearsed standing ovation.
Far be it from me to disparage Kobe’s fantasy or deduce that his being is all about the applause.
Surely he’s above that. Surely he knows Jesus didn’t rearrange that rock for the praise. It would be inappropriate and improper for me to presume Kobe distorts the intrinsic value of what he does for a living.
Who knows, maybe Kobe’s daydream is deferred. Maybe it takes place long after retiring from the NBA. Maybe he’s fixated long-term with applying his solar energy elsewhere and earning humanitarian stateliness.
If that’s the case, for the time being Kobe simply will have to settle for being idolized, adulated, exalted, glorified and worshipped by mere mortal basketball fans for his supernatural self-assurance, unearthly serrated edge and undivided attention on splitting the rim’s circumference.
Supposedly, seeing is believing. Think, again.
I saw the Lakers’ witch doctor stick 65 pins into Portland on Friday night and I still don’t believe any of his sorcery, shots from all streams of consciousness — un-, sub- and barely.
One, in particular occurred with 44.2 seconds left in overtime, with the score tied at 108. It can’t help but be spotlighted and fawned over forever.
Having slipped one defender, Kobe cut to the middle, caught a pass and drove left to the coffin corner. Brandon Roy tailgated him.
The 213-cm LaMarcus Aldridge abruptly converged, sealing a taut trap. Kobe had nowhere to go and less than a step in either direction to get there.
Two spin cycles, a jab step and a polished tap dance later, Roy had stumbled backward, Aldridge had been freeze-dried and Kobe had elevated for an unimaginable fade away trifecta that essentially terminated the Lakers’ seven-game skid (the last two by a total of 63 points) on desolation row.
Never was Kobe more hypnotically alert to what desperate measures were needed to end his team’s slump. His determination and detachment — from teammates, opponents, league scrutiny — was evident from the jump.
“He followed up a great first half with an even greater second half,” Phil Jackson underlined.
Explicitly, that converted into two dozen points in the fourth quarter alone and another nine in OT.
Down seven with 1:40 remaining in regulation Kobe put it in overdrive to summarily end the slide.
Overall, he accounted for the fourth-highest total in franchise history (his 81- and 65-point outbursts — sandwich Elgin Baylor’s 71 and Wilt’s 66) on an incredibly economical 23-39 shooting from the field, including 8-for-12 from 3-point range and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line.
Oh, yeah, Kobe also contributed seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and, no, not one errant elbow.
Imagine if the Lakers hadn’t experienced plane trouble on their return from Denver and got back home (7 a.m.) at a reasonable hour.
A more pertinent question may be, with Kobe able to take over games like few others, how was it possible (other teams have been similarly disabled and survived; the Rockets even thrived without Yao Ming) for the Lakers to endure such a prolonged national nightmare?
“It’s probably the best I’ve ever shot,” Kobe allowed.
For the moment, he’s satisfied by the victory, his 65 points and his breathtaking accuracy.
Are the Pistons peaking too early?
Detroit’s 105-83 total eclipse of the Suns completed a perfect 5-0 road trip, the club’s first in some 15 seasons.
Phoenix was held a mere 27 points below its league-leading, per-game average.
Then things got even less competitive the next night in Denver when the final spread widened to 24.
Sorry, fellas, using your triumph in Dallas as an excuse (emotionally bankrupt) is limited to one feeble effort.
Meanwhile, the Pistons didn’t just achieve road perfection, it accomplished road dominance, winning the quintet (at Denver, Seattle, Clippers, Portland and Phoenix) by 13, 18, 4, 12 and 22, respectively, one minus the suspended Rasheed Wallace and the last basically minus the services (strained left groin) of Chauncey Billups.
On Tuesday, Detroit returns home to face a Dallas team it dismembered on Dec. 7; that was the Mavs’ last home loss before the Suns halted their streak at 23.
There’s no place like away.