Item: Kobe Bryant Afro Days T-Shirt
Soundtrack: "The Takeover" — Jay Z
Words: There are basically two people named Kobe Bean Bryant in this world.
Both are champions.
Both will bust your ass when provoked (non-provoked, also).
Both have the confidence of a kid bringing a pen to a test.
And both are scary as fuck from the perspective of a hapless defender.
For our purposes, we will focus on Subject 1A of the dual Kobe’s — the No. 8 wearing, afro picking, adidas rocking, I-don’t-give-a-fuck Kobe Bryant.
Before Black Mamba, and before the bicep ink.
This was a man who, barely in his 20s, became the most popular player in the world during the post-Jordan era.
He was skinnier back then. Was less refined. And played sidekick, despite fighting Shaquille day in and day out.
Phil wanted to trade him for Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion at one point. Imagine that — Kobe Bryant as a Phoenix Sun. Thank god the late Dr. Jerry Buss wanted none of that trade.
Remember that Game Four against the Pacers during the 2000 NBA Finals? Shaquille fouls out in OT, the Pacers thinking they got this. Nope, here comes No. 8, wets a couple jumpers, comes through with the go-ahead tip in to give the Lake Show the two point lead. And what does he do? Struts back to the bench, hands out as if to say “Strictly business. Don’t worry.”
Only a smidgen of the cocksure confidence that No. 8 had, as a man in his early 20s. While most people are just finishing up college and getting an internship somewhere, this dude was winning the NBA Finals. No big.
Immortalized on this dope shirt from CoastalClothingCo is our Subject 1A, Mr. Kobe Bean Bryant.
For me personally, I loved Afro Kobe. Even though he was less of a leader, he was straight nasty. And I loved those adidas (the Kobe I, not the toaster lookalike Kobe II).
Unfortunately, this shirt is out of stock, but maybe if you bother them they’ll get it back in time for the NBA season to begin.
Item: Brian Grant’s Monsta O’s Cereal Box
Soundtrack: ”Can I Get a Headband” — Da Blazers
Words: Well, shit. If you did not live in Oregon during those crazy awesome Blazer teams who put fear into the hearts of the hated Lakers at one point, you probably have no idea what this is. Hell, you probably aren’t even familiar with Brian Grant, who is understandably forgotten as an NBA player. Grant never really did much, but he was a super solid role player who Blazer fans will always love, forever and ever and ever.
During the Monsta O’s era, Grant was one of the first off the bench for the super-stacked Blazers squad, who also had the likes of Roscoe Wallace, Scottie Pippen, and a cocaine raw Jermaine O’Neal, who they probably shouldn’t have traded for Dale Davis.
But back to Grant — BG was so solid and workhorse-like. Every team needed a dude like him — you can see a similar version of Grant currently in the form of Udonis Haslem, who Shaquille once called “Clemenza.” Grant was basically the Clemenza for the Blazers, coming off the bench that year and draining free-throw line jumpers and rebounding like a hot chick who just got dismissed.
As far as the cereal itself? I have no clue what it tasted like. Luckily, this box was empty when I found it, and hopefully its contents were once enjoyed by a smiling Blazer fan, who ate it sometime before they played the Lakers in that heartbreaking Western Conference Finals series that ended with that alley-oop from Kobe to Shaq.
And the nice part is, Grant donated 100 percent of the honey nut toasted oat cereal profits to the Brian Grant foundation, which is active in supporting Parkinson’s.
There have been other No. 44’s on the Blazers since Grant, but none of them have come even close to appearing on a cereal box.
If you’re ever at the House of Vintage in SE Portland on Hawthorne and you see this box, shell out the ten bones.