Kobe Bryant is a man with image issues. In a similar way to A-Rod, his entire persona has long seemed like the product of a focus group gone horribly wrong. It's what Kobe thinks people want to see from him, not what he actually is, but because he tries so hard to make that perception a reality, it's hard to know where his real personality actually lies. He is vigilant in obscuring himself. He usually succeeds.
Spike Lee recently worked with Bryant on a documentary, "Kobe Doin' Work," in which Lee uses a series of cameras to plot Kobe's every move in a single game against the San Antonio Spurs while Bryant narrates. It's an interesting concept for a film about Kobe, but it's hard to imagine it being a very objective film.
It's even harder now. Bryant gave Lee a serious runaround over creative control, even ignoring the director when he came to Bryant's house. From the New York Post:
But suddenly Bryant said he wouldn't cooperate unless he was granted creative control, sources said. Lee tried several times to call Bryant, who wouldn't accept his calls. So Lee, at the suggestion of ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith, drove to Bryant's house in a gated community, where Bryant refused to see him, sources said.
"Spike Lee completely yielded," said one insider. "And at the start of the film, when Kobe arrives at the Staples Center and sees Spike with the camera, he gives him a big smile and thumbs up, showing he knows he won the battle."
According to a spokesman for Lee, the director retained creative control, and the Post's story is "baseless." Maybe. But it's far easier to picture Kobe doing everything in his power to make sure Lee painted him exactly how Bryant wanted to be painted: friendly, intense, competitive, and team-oriented. Anything else will likely get left on the cutting room floor.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.