Guarding, err, Covering Kobe Bryant

I was tasked by Phil Jackson, err, Mark to cover Kobe's Supernatural Tour - Manila leg. Suffice to say, I am clueless as to how things would go during the day. But because the stuff was all for fun, meaning I get nothing but see Kobe in person, it’s all good. I posted my experience over at Hoops.Blink.Ph blog, the edited version.

Below, is the rakenrol version of the post covering the presscon and the Ultra event.

Kobe and TJ jumpstarting the event.

Kobe Bryant in town. So am I. Here goes my first attempt of doing some "media" stuff . I say ditching work to do this presscon was worth it. This stuff happens only once or twice in a decade. Bar none, Kobe Bryant it NBA's biggest draw.

Call time is 11:00 am over at Quezon Hall Shangri La Makati. The none-Makatipboy in me, I parked at Park-Square 2 when there's parking lot near Landmark. So I went malling first. Thus, I got this new speed bag - punching bag.

Over hundred media and fotogs packed the pressroom doing their own version boxing out. Powerful camera and lenses they were carrying. My Canon Digital Camera wouldn’t go out of the case in utter insecurity. There were some registrations required and Media-ID distribution. Guess what, I am packed digitally but I got no effing pen. But the maniac in me, I stole hotel’s pen and notepad set over at the public phone booth. During the registration, they were like ROTC boys signing up for the attendance sheet. Mad scramble.

As usual, Filipino time, already 11.30, there's no Kobe Bean Bryant still. Quite understandable, Kobe is a big star, he has his own protocol and to add, the press wants to do things their way, ie, storm the stage and even delay. Barker says, for the TV Crews to stay out of the stage vicinity and go to the designated areas but the hell, they were deaf.

The press photographers-videographers and uzis (to where I am categorized) were doubling by the minute, dunno if I'll be able to squeeze in to get a clear shot of Kobe. (Looking at my captured pictures, I think, I captured few good pictures, the rest were fade-away shots, so to speak.)

In the house were Chino Trinidad (who was very accommodating when I asked for a shot), Noel Zarate who seemed to know everybody in the crowd, Anthony Suntay, Beth Celis and Dyan Castillejo. My man, the Dean - Quinito Henson was there. The Dean consented on my request for a shot. By this time, your “media” guy is turning out to be a “syano” guy, dragging every celebrity for a shot. BTW, Kume Chino Trinidad volunteered to shoot away while I was gleaming at the idea of me and Quinito together for a shot. They may have some articles that I don't agree with, but the two, Chino and Quinito were cool dudes.

Check-out the two cool dudes (Chino and Qunito), men in the mirror, uh-hooo.

BTW, the girl who hosts GMA’s Sapulso was there. She’s the petite chinita chic. I wanted to take the photo op, I just dunno how to approach her without getting lower than the state I was in. Who knows, if Debraliz or Lou Beloso was there, I’ll ask for pics too.

Past 12 noon, press-con is now turning into a depress-con to me.

The first good news of the day, free lunch. Or, shall we say, SUPERB FREE LUNCH. Buffet lunch meal served outside the presscon room. The foodssssss were by Shangri La, and so, beleive me, food was delizioso. Oh BTW, to make my fellow Bloggers here at Hoops green, there were pretty girls in the event too.

I gobbled up (or down) caesars’ salad, potato salad, fish and beef meals and had blueberry cheese cake as my dessert. Bottomless drinks everywhere.

(BTW, there's this tabloid newspaper guy, he took a trayload of meal. I think he went on a full-time tasting spree. He took all that Shangri La could offer. After that, he had 5 to 7 cakes of different variety. Name it, choco-creme, choco-mocha, choco-puta, strawberry, blueberry, whiteberry, yeah all the berries you could think of. Amazingly, he consumed all without throwing up.)

I was sitted next a highscool kid who befriended me and I think we now have a friendship that could last a lifetime. He asked approximate 128 questions regarding Kobe and 221 questions asking, "nanjan na si Kobe?"

Around 1:00 pm, no Kobe still.

Then, minutes later, TJ Manotoc started it all. Nike Country Manager Melissa Crucillo gave a short message too. She’s cool (and cute), she knows, she cant drag her monologue. She mentioned Nike’s drive in developing local basketball and bringing Kobe in here to inspire young kids to play some hoops. Or in short, Kobe is out here because it's part of his contract to do so, to sell Nike Gears!

Quick memo from Nike Country Manager, Melissa Crucillo.

And finally, the Super Natural entered the scene. He came in wearing, ahhm, Nike Gears!

Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!

Prescon starts now.

Is it me, or Kobe really mimics Michael Jordan from ground up. That's not a knack on Kobe but really, the way he speaks and moves, it's soooooo MJ. Listen to some clips, he went like, "basically I am here to spread the game" in a tone and manner that he surely got from MJ.

Kobe getting it from the media.

Anyway, some of the details I got from Kobe's remarks and the Q n A.


He's out for an Asian swing to spread the game. He's to encourage more kids to play the game of basketball. Also, to teach some select kids some Kobe drills. Drills that he calls "Black Out". Yeah, the "Black Out" drills from the Black Mamba. He also out to explore and develop his partnership with Nike. Simply put, he's also out to sway people to buy swooshed gears!)


- He likes playing for both U.S.A. and the Lakers. Sched don’t conflict anyways, USA games happen during summer. He also noted that Greece and Spain as world basketball heavyweights.

- Gino Rufino of ANC Hard Ball (later, the co-hosts the ULTRA event) asked Kobe to choose between an NBA Ring or an Olympic Gold. Kobe, a thirsty sanamagan baller, he says he is out to get both.

- Comparing the original Dream Team and Team USA 2007, he says the challenge is now greater. The world basketball order is now different and many countries improved.

- Regarding Lakers, he answered blank, he will just play as hard as he can, whoever is in LA town (including Kobe himself if he's still in town come 2007-2008).

- The Role model stuff, Kobe went a little serious. He went like, nobody's perfect. And says, role model is a person that learns from mistake. Ahhhh I see, like Kobe eh?

- What makes him tick with young kids? he says, it’s his love of game, love of life and living it to the fullest.

- What motivates Kobe, critics or the praises? Kobe says, both. But more importantly, winning motivates him.

- One Dude greeted Kobe a belated happy birthday, ahhhhh, isn’t he nice (or gay)? Anyways, the question, if he has money, he’s the Laker owner and has salary cap flexibility, who'd he take? Kobe says, the 2007 USA team members. Borrriiiiing!

- Kobe's diet is mainly skipping the junks, the ice cream, apple pies, cheesecakes, you know, the stuff that Shangri La served us.

- On a related note, Kobe says he dropped 20 pounds primarily for defense. The plan is to have a stronger and faster Kobe come opening night.

- Regarding the future NBA bearers (Wade, Melo and Lebron), he says all are good and do things differently. Ah yeah, the Basketball Ambassador Kobe.

- With a tougher challenge in 2008 Beijing, they are out to improve the team and he says Colangelo and Coack K know what they are doing.

- Regarding any chance of him doing Hollywood, he says NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! Oh c’mon now Kobe, you are telling us you don't envy Shaq's epic films Kazaaam and Steel?

- What monicker Kobe wants? He says he's cool with Kobe. And but of course, the self-initiated monicker, Black Mamba, he mentioned it. So there, the Black Mamba doing nice little chit-chattin.

Part 2 tomorrow, I'll post the ULTRA Event. I skipped the Bonifacio Highstreet event coz I had another thing planned out way before the Kobe sched came out. Also, Nike handed me a Media Kit, I'll see what I can dig and post some stuff. BTW, thanks to Nike - Ogilvy for sending Hoops.Blink.Ph a media invite and Ultra tickets.

Back to work now...

Part 2: The ULTRA Blackout Drills

Part 1: The Presscon

Last time I'm inside the ULTRA was back in 1989, I think San Mig and Ginebra were in the Finals. I can't remember, I am getting old. I was a kid then, I remember sitting beside my Lolo while my cousin was at the either side of the venue sitting beside my Aunt.

Perhaps brought upon by the Wowowee Tragedy, police visibility or traffic aides was tremendous. They were all-over the vicinity. We parked in front of ULTRA, dunno what compound was that. Parking is free (or they forgot to bill us.)

Sightings: Dindo Pumaren and his boys; Reema Changco, Dominic Uy - who's like a tax collector - the guy can't stay at one place. Alvin Patrimonio - who, as usual, was humbled by requests for photo ops, Tim Cone, Chot Reyes (whom, I had a picture with), Mac Cardona and Ren Ren Ritualo, practically all Eddie Gutierrez boys and more. I wonder why Raymond did not go with his bros. Francis M was there equipped with a camera having a lens about a feet long and a tripod as tall as Yao Ming. Clearly, Kiko is serious with his fotografi career. Inggit ako, that's my next target, I'll get my own DSLR camera sometime next year.

Gino Rufino, TJ Manotoc and Sarah Meier emceed the early part of the event, the rest it was all Kobe show. Sarah who once a thing going with Borgy co-hosted the event with TJ, could have been his bro-in-law had Borgy been not a playa.

A short message from Kobe then he started his ULTRA task: The Black-Out Drills.

During the defensive workout, Kobe didn't hesitate in pointing out that the Nike Elite Campers are well, not that elite. He found major flaw in the way they do their lateral movements. Kobe demoed the stance. He says, “legs have to be spread wide and body has to be lower”. Hearing Kobe instructing someone to do that stance is kinda creepy. Did he say the same thing in Colorado?

Unintentional comedy, Kobe passionately pointed out that the game is a team game and not a one-on-one game. Could someone douse me a bucket of Gatorade, am I dreaming or what? Kobe preaching team game is new.

Kobe was intense (or at least, he pretended to be intense) in teaching Nike Campers how its done. Putting premium on defense, Kobe stressed that the nonchalant defense that the Nike Elite players are doing will bring them nowhere.

Some minutes still spent doing the defensive drills while 1/2 of the crowd are starting to:

A. Yawn
B. Consume all the Hotdogs in the hall.
C. Check-out their captured cellphone and digicam pictures
D. Stare at Richard Guttierez.
E. Shout, “Kobe, Dunk! Dunk!”

The crowd is really looking for Kobe-stuff he did back in 1998. Tons of showboating, cross-over moves (that’s my moooove! he said – from Adidas spot), fancy passes, and all that stuff that don’t matter. That year, he had exhibition games. Halfway thru this event, and he's having none of that. Indeed, 9 to 10 years make the difference.

Another drill is the side-to-side court laterals where they have to touch the sidelines. If not, they'll start over to do the 17 repetitions. And look ma, Sarah Meier, the sideline watcher saw an infraction and they had to start over. I’ ve got a feeling Sarah is the object of downloading for that kid that night. Payback time. (Funny note, when Kobe said to his apprentice, "sit!", he meant for the kid to lay even low on his defensive stance. But the kid attempted to literally sit on the floor. Whoa! What if, during the offensive drill, the pick and roll, Kobe yells, "Roll!", would he actually roll? Now, Jump! Bite!)

Then, the defensive drill was over.

BTW, coach Eric Altamirano (the pluggable coach) and Alex Compton assisted Kobe in the drills. Or in Filipino, Coach Eric was the taga-abot while the enthusiastic Alex Compton was the taga-abot PLUS, taga-palakpak. Hell, I can do that.

On offense, they spent some minutes firing away. But still the focus is train hard and do countless repetitions. Shoot as many as 1000 (made shots btw) he says. Practice makes perfect, or in real life, practice makes a complete player. And so no doubt, Kobe Bryant is the most complete player in the planet. Now wonder no more, why the hell Kobe scored 81 points and he looked like he could do another 48 minute game. Plenty of energy in the tank. Thanks to the Black Out training.

Continuing the offense lecture, to facilitate a team-oriented assault, they had a 3-on-3 game. Kobe says there's a "one-dribble" rule. Whoa, here comes Mr. Bryant preaching players to pass. Nice Kobe, Phil Jackson can’t be more delighted now.

Then, the offensive exercise was over.

Basically, that's what the ULTRA event was. For Kobe to personally share part of regiment to some young basketball players.

But a Kobe show without a little flair is not a Kobe Show. Thus, to cap the proceedings, he did his stuff. A couple of dunks (he missed twice) including the over-the-two-kids dunk. The crowd when nuts, my camera too. And so, I got no pics to share. Ahhh, here are some friends, saving the day with some video clips. Ready? One Two Three.

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