Kobe’s Black (Mamba) Ops

Kobe Bryant is getting flack for a new commercial for Call of Duty: Black Ops in which he makes a cameo. I’m sure you have seen it by now.  It takes place in a bombed out urban war setting with businessmen, scientists, construction  works, what looks like a Best Buy worker, Kobe and Jimmy Kimmel all carrying automatic weapons and shooting at some invisible foe. Or maybe they’re shooting out each other. I’m not sure.  The tagline is “There’s a Soldier in All of Us.”

That’s supposed to mean that people of all walks of life will be playing this game. I get it; if you want to move some product you put famous people in the commercial. Whether they have any connection to the product or not. Does Kobe even play video games? He strikes me as the kind of dude who doesn’t play them at all.

So of course, all the usual characters come out against this ad.  All the anti-gun, anti-violence, anti-video game groups and anyone else with a cause they are trying to sell to the public.

You would expect those people.

The group I didn’t expect to have a problem with this was ESPN. They did a story on their website and aired a segment on “1st and 10”. In that segment, Skip Bayless called Kobe’s participation in the commercial “the all-time What Were You Thinking?”

 He went on to say, “He was smiling while holding an assault rifle in combat while we have troops overseas at this moment doing the same thing for real in combat. It’s completely out of bounds for Kobe Bryant, who I thought had completely rehabilitated his image after Eagle, Colo., but even the great Kobe Bryant is not that, so to speak, bulletproof.”

For Bayless to invoke the troops in this argument is completely transparent and also hypocritical.  He’s saying Kobe should have thought about the troops before he made the decision to be in this commercial. My question is; When has Skip Bayless ever thought about the troops? What has he ever done? Google “Skip Bayless” and “US troops” and see what comes up. Nothing, because Skip Bayless has never done anything for the troops. Except use them as a prop to justify his mock outrage.

And what would ESPN be saying if it was LeBron James in that commercial? I imagine they would be saying that he is “just having fun” and “repairing his image” and probably “showing that he’s a true warrior” or whatever nonsense they gush when they have a LeBoner.  And ESPN should take a look at the moral decisions some of their on-air personalities have made in the recent past. (The name Jay Mariotti comes to mind.)

I think everyone needs to take a step back and realize that it’s just a commercial about a video game. To be sure, there is real violence in the world that needs to be addressed.  But this violence did not start with video games and certainly not with Kobe Bryant.