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Ball Don't Lie

Kobe Bryant explains why he chews/sucks on his jersey, which you were totally wondering about

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

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Yeah, what IS up with that? (Chris Covatta/NBA/Getty Images)

Friday's edition of the Los Angeles Times featured a lengthy, interesting chat between columnist T.J. Simers — whom you might remember from such endeavors as Messing With Mike D'Antoni and Messing With Jim Mora Jr. — and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. It's not the most fascinating interview Bryant's given recently — that honor belongs to his mind-bending talk with ESPN's Chris Palmer, but it's still a wide-ranging sit-down that touches on a load of topics relevant to both his career writ large and the nitty-gritty specifics of this year's struggling 20-26 Lakers, who will be without injured center Dwight Howard when they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

[Also: Celtics lose rookie Jared Sullinger for rest of season]

But amid discussion of matters like whether he's worried Howard might bolt this offseason ("Yeah, a little bit"), his own reportedly testy relationship with Howard ("I've been through much worse") and his recently ramped-up quotability ("I find myself talking sometimes and I can't believe what I just said"), the conversation somehow turned to a peculiar quirk Bryant's showcased on the court over the years — the habit of putting the collar of his jersey in his mouth, appearing to chew or suck on it, sometimes even in the middle of actual game action. As it turns out, there's a simple explanation:

He will be remembered, of course, for being one of the game's greats, willing to eat your young, or his own jersey to win.

"It's disgusting, but my father taught me when your mouth gets dry, just suck the sweat out of your own jersey," he says. "There's no bravado to any of it; it's just a disgusting little trick."

[Also: LeBron James thinks he's worth more than he's allowed to make]

Hmm. Gross! I kind of wish I didn't know that! Don't you kind of wish you didn't know that? But now, here we are, our brains having made room for the information that what we previously might've thought was a sign of Kobe's engagement in the moment or a mechanism for briefly bridling his raging competitive nature is actually just a way to hydrate by re-ingesting your own perspiration. Great. Thanks a lot, Kobe. Maybe just drink some water or Gatorade from here on out. Jeez.

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