Throughout his illustrious career, former Los Angeles star guard Kobe Bryant became arguably the most popular player in the league. Bryant had become a global sports icon that saw him become a well-known athlete in various countries across the world. That had seen him take ownership of the brand along the way to garner more financial opportunities available to him. All that led to Bryant to go to the lengths of suing an entire city while also throwing another verbal shot at his former longtime teammate and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe Bryant sues Japan city of Kobe
Through his first 14 seasons, Bryant had well established himself as the face of the league behind his impressive production and success.
He had the Lakers riding high once again, coming off their fourth NBA title with him at the helm. Bryant was the peak of his career with his team headed toward what would be an eventual back-to-back championship after topping the Boston Celtics in a dramatic seven-game series.
Before Bryant achieved that feat in 2010, he filed a lawsuit against the Japan city of Kobe over the naming rights of their beef. His attorney Jeff Rundvless told LA Weekly that the star guard believed he had garnered more popularity and influence than the city. (H/T CBS)
“While we are aware the city of Kobe has been around longer than my client, Mr. Bryant has clearly become more famous and influential. I mean, just type ‘Kobe’ into Google and tell me what comes up first… If Gatorade had a flavor named Kobe and wasn’t paying him for it, we’d be suing them too.
That is quite a boastfulness way to think, but Bryant’s name did come from the meat itself after his parents saw that on a restaurant menu. There was much credence to his stance, but to sue the city was quite puzzling.
Kobe Bryant takes shot at Shaq
The lawsuit didn’t stop there as Bryant used the opportunity to take a dig at his former longtime teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
Over the years, their conflict had been well-documented during their time together in Los Angeles and the years after. With that in mind, Bryant took another dig at O’Neal as he told after the Lakers’ 109-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in March 2010 that the city of Kobe should call their beef Shaq since it’s fatty. (H/T Noah Galuten of the LA Weekly)
I don’t know, man. Maybe they should call it Shaq beef, since it’s really fatty. Or who’s that airplane dude? The guy who directed Mallrats. Whatever his name is.”
It’s another little jab that Bryant took to insult O”Neal’s weight as that was a point of his frustration during their time together. The star guard had significant issues with the Hall of Fame big man being unable to maintain his weight and often coming to training camp out of shape.
At the same time, the Kobe Beef is known to be a bit of a fatty and rare meat. It was merely an ideal situation for Bryant to take advantage of to poke some fun at his former running mate.
Kobe being Kobe
Although nothing came about from the lawsuit, it does speak to the enormous level of confidence and ego that he has about his brand.
The fact that he took it to the next level by suing an entire situation only further fueled that notion. Bryant was a sharp businessman and shown that over the latter stages of his career and was doing that early in his retirement before his sudden passing earlier this year.
Ultimately, it’s just another example of Bryant trying to make the most out of his namesake and popularity.