Kobe Bryant's decision to live-tweet Game 1 of the first-round Western Conference playoff series between his Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday wound up being a bigger story than the game itself, which the punchless Lakers lost thanks to a poor shooting performance (41.1 percent from the floor, 3 for 15 from 3-point range) and strong play from the San Antonio backcourt tandem of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. And apparently, that's a level of attention that neither Bryant nor the Lakers want anymore.
The injured Bryant, laid up at his home after undergoing surgery to repair his torn left Achilles tendon, chose to break down Sunday's game on his Twitter account, offering insights on the Lakers performance and interacting with fans who were also watching the game from the comfort of their own home. At times, Bryant's analysis could be construed as critical, as when he repeatedly called for the Lakers to pound the ball inside to the big-man tandem of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol and when he derided the team's "matador defense" on Parker's penetration.
After the game, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni was asked what he thought about Bryant's in-game analysis, some of which seemed pointed at perceived failings in the L.A. game plan. D'Antoni sarcastically dismissed it.
"It’s great to have that commentary,” he said, then rolled his eyes before saying that Bryant is "a fan right now," a comment that raised eyebrows among media members, non-first-ballot-Hall-of-Fame supporters and this particular "fan" alike.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 22, 2013
Comparing yourself to Shakespeare using the name you gave yourself a couple of months ago while also quoting the voice talent behind "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" — if there's a more poignant way to announce that you're going to take a Twitter break, I've yet to see it.
While fans and media members looked at Bryant's in-game tweets and wondered whether the Mamba was throwing his coaches and teammates under the bus, his fellow Lakers apparently viewed the social media suggestions as similar to sideline correctives from a knowledgable teammate, according to ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin:
“He’d be coaching if he was here,” Lakers guard Steve Blake told reporters after Game 1. “He’d be telling us exactly what to do, when to do it. He’s just trying to stay engaged. He’s a competitor and he wishes he was out there. We all wish he was out there. But unfortunately for us, he’s stuck to being a sideline coach.”
Now see, Coach D'Antoni? Doesn't "sideline coach" sound way better than "fan" in this context?
Bryant's response to the coverage of his tweeting on multiple sports news outlets, including this one, seems like a bit of an overreaction, but then again, the initial coverage was probably overblown, too. The volume gets turned up on everything during the playoffs, and that can mean even more noise making the signal harder to find.
Still, if Bryant feels he actually has in-game suggestions to make, he might be better served doing what he did last week back and just telling trainer Gary Vitti to put his teammates on the phone. At least that way, Bryant's messages won't be subject to interpretation (and, perhaps, misinterpretation) by more than 2.2 million followers hanging on every 140-character missive. I'm not sure random halftime calls from Kobe would be less distracting to his teammates, but it'd probably represent less of a distraction for the Laker organization as a whole.
In any event, it's sad that Kobe's live-tweeting career will apparently last only one game. I found his willingness to interact with his followers refreshing, and thought it was neat to get an inside perspective on some of the strategic elements of the game to which we fans usually aren't privy — now, unfortunately, we won't get more of that. Still, I'm planning to keep an eye on Kobe's Facebook page during Wednesday night's Game 2, just in case he's got an itchy Twitter finger and feels like he can get free on a social media technicality.
Related NBA video from Yahoo! Sports:
Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
• Watch: Is Manti Te'o worth a first-round pick?
• Big contracts and big losses for Los Angeles baseball
• Fantasy: Early snapshot of top 50 RBs for 2013