I think we all probably thought the same thing when we learned last June that there is a huge sculpture of Kobe Bryant at a museum in the Chinese province of Guangzhou — "OK, cool, but how come he's standing still in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform rather than naked and wrestling a giant snake?" Even some 14 months later, it still galls me; I mean, what is this, Amateur Hour?
Luckily, there are still some real honest-to-goodness artists in this world, and the gang at Lakers Nation has captured the work of one such artisan in Taiwan. Behold: "Achilles," by Roger Huang.
You can't quite see it from the angle above, so take a look below — the mamba is biting Bryant's left Achilles tendon, which, of course, is the one he tore during an April 2013 game against the Golden State Warriors, landing him on the shelf for nearly eight months and derailing the future first-ballot Hall of Famer's career as he was putting the finishing touches on one of the finest offensive seasons he'd ever authored:
The fiberglass-reinforced-plastic-composed piece, as Huang describes it, presents Bryant as a stand-in for Achilles the Greek "demigod" himself, locked in battle with the creature whose aspect he has taken on as his career has moved forward. Will the nearly 36-year-old "Black Mamba," now coming back from a second severe leg injury, fail to meet the challenge of returning to form and leading an apparently underwhelming Lakers squad back to the postseason? Or will he come back from his time away rejuvenated and restored, with "the Mamba snake just healing [his] wound [with its] venom," as Huang writes?
That much, of course, remains to be seen, but what's indisputable is that Huang has succeeded in at least one area where his Guangzhou predecessors failed — the integration of the famed Kobe Death Stare and signature jaw jut into the piece:
We already know Kobe likes the idea of having one of his more infamous expressions carved into his countenance for prosperity. Now we'll just need to see if the artists responsible for his eventual statue outside of Staples Center take inspiration not only from Huang's facial work, but from the "let's make him a naked Greek hero fighting with a snake" stuff, too.
While we wait to find out, those of you in the greater Taipei metropolitan area can check out the sculpture and a slew of other NBA-related artwork at the Conscious 3 Basketball Art Exhibition, running through Aug. 24.
Hat-tip to Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk.
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