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‘Doin’ Work’: A Spike Lee joint to pass on [by jeff dale]

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Kobe Bryant has been called a lot of things in his 12 year pro career — from rapist, to The Black Mamba, to MVP, to the next MJ. Kobe’s life has been a remarkable story of a star who rose so quickly after winning three championships by the age of 23, and whose crash to earth was equally remarkable.

These story lines might be what you’d expect to see when Spike Lee rolls up a fat one, and tackles one of the biggest sports icons of our generation. But, sadly to say, Spike has lost his fastball.

Lee’s documentary “Kobe: Doin’ Work” chronicles the life of Kobe Bean Bryant (and yes, laugh all you want, Kobe’s middle name is Bean) in one game during the 2007-2008 season. Kobe is wired the entire game.

From the get go, the film sounds more like a director’s commentary, than an actual documentary, and that director is not Spike Lee — it’s Kobe Bryant.

Kobe narrates, while Spike occasionally asks questions. It starts off slow, with Kobe talking about the pregame introductions giving him goosebumps, but quickly moves on to a patented Kobe moment.

Shortly after the opening tip, Kobe gets a pass from point guard Derek Fisher, but tosses it out of bounds. Does the director have any words for that play? Nope.

Dead silence.

After about 30 seconds or so, when I’m sure Spike elbowed Kobe to remind him psst, you’re supposed to talk, Kobe remarks, “I hate turnovers.”

Despite Kobe doing his best Morgan Freeman impression throughout the film, what can be taken out of it is his love for the game. When he came into the league straight out of high school sporting his mini-fro, it was apparent he was a future star. When he was teamed with Shaq, the Laker Dynasty became a reality again, but ever since Shaq’s departure it has been one disappointment after another.

This game would be no disappointment. With the Spurs Manu Ginobili sidelined, the Lakers were able to play the triangle to perfection. This film was not about this game, but about The Game.

All too often as fans when we get to peak inside the inner sanctums of sports all we get is a taste. What Spike Lee and Kobe do in this documentary is give an all-access pass to everything the NBA is: From the trash talk, to the arguments with refs, to halftime speeches, to the communication on the court.

What we also forget about our professional athletes today is that they are more educated than we think. The NBA has gone international, and because of this court communication has become a lot harder. Throughout the game you’ll hear Bryant communicating with his teammates in Spanish, Italian and English. The NBA: Where bilingual superstars happen.

Kobe doesn’t shy away from the trash talk either, even in another language. Toward the end the film Kobe is heard joking with teammate Sasha Vujacic in Italian. And of course, he didn’t have a problem ribbing the other team, like when Damon Stoudemire came into the game to guard him and Kobe said, “We got a mouse in the house!”

Stoudemire is barely over six feet tall.

Or when Kurt Thomas and Kobe tangle for a rebound, Kobe joshes after, “What are you gonna play ’till you’re 50?”

Thomas was drafted 10th overall in 1995.

These are the small idiosyncrasies we can’t hear on TV. So if you’re looking to get an interesting perspective of the game behind the game, watch “Kobe: Doin’ Work.” But if you’re looking for the inner details of Kobe Bryant, look somewhere else.

While Kobe does give a unique perspective on what an actual NBA game is like, it still leaves you wondering what the point of it all is. Spike Lee is a Knicks fan. Probably as far from a Laker fan as you can get, other than sporting the Green. So why did he do this?

The same night Kobe narrated the film, he dropped 61 points in Madison Square Garden, and who did the New York media blame for the performance? Spike Lee.

Was it worth it Spike?

Grade: B-

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