Commentary

Kobe Bryant 'wins' at Guitar Hero 5

Originally Published: April 8, 2010
By Sam Alipour | Special to Page 2

LOS ANGELES -- It's April 6, a brilliant afternoon in Hollywood, and the stage is set for a high-wattage gaming battle between Lakers star Kobe Bryant and Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx. The two will square-off in Guitar Hero 5 for a red carpet event that will stream live on Qonquest.com, a new social gaming platform.

Only one glitch: Foxx doesn't show.

Here are some other odd happenings from Boulevard 3 …

• Among those representing Team Kobe: teammate Josh Powell, 49ers safety Dashon Goldson, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, and crazy man Bobby Brown, who is planning a tour. "I'm coming back!" says the singer, a fierce look in his eyes.

• Representing Team Foxx is one brave man: Chiefs safety Jarrad Page. "I'm not a Lakers fan," Page says, before noting his surroundings and wishing Bryant well. "These games are dangerous. I've strained my index a couple of times hitting the speed burst in NBA 2K10. Hopefully, Kobe won't hurt another finger."

• Super Bowl champs Roman Harper and Darren Sharper sneak into the party, unnoticed by all -- except, well, a pimp. That's right, Don Magic Juan -- aka Bishop Magic Juan, aka The Chairman of the Board, aka spiritual adviser to Snoop Dogg and, yes, a pimp -- is in the house. Welcome to LA, champs.

• Do you enjoy seeing people suffer? If so, hit-up a Southland red carpet and watch the faces of local media as Kobe Brant arrives, takes one look at the scrum and jets by, speaking these words out the side of his mouth: "See ya'll later."

• With the battle nearing and Foxx officially a no-show (a photo shoot ran long, said the event's PR staff), organizers hand a guitar to Ray Lewis. Interesting choice. Separate Lewis from his helmet, and the gridiron's most prolific perpetrator of violence becomes a marshmallow. Honestly, whenever I hear Lewis speak, I want to climb into his lap. His voice is that soft and soothing. How will he fair in a gaming battle? "I just got the game a few days ago and I've been practicing," he says. "But I'm going to say it up front: I'm not good -- at all. I've been set-up."

• Game on! Lewis and Bryant are on a stage before 300 guests, wiggling their fingers to Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious." Kobe, looking every bit the rock star with his leather jacket and dark shades, doesn't play like one. "Which one am I, left or right?" he asks, well, the flatscreen. Then, after the music stops: "I was Player 2, right?" So, yeah, Lewis wins. "I ain't gonna lie," Kobe says, "I've never played this game before in my life."

• LA's favorite son can't lose on his home floor. "Best of three!" the MC declares. This time around, playing to Wild Cherry's "Play that Funky Music," Kobe wins, nearly doubling Lewis' total.

• For the final round, Kobe is given a drum set, much to his surprise. Lewis sticks with the guitar. The game, set to Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name," will last roughly 6 seconds. "Gimme my guitar back," Bryant pleads.

• Take two, or four: Lewis wins again, and by a lot, emerging as the victor in the best-of-three. Right? Well, maybe not. Just off stage, important-looking people huddle. Several awkward minutes pass before it's settled: Kobe wins, everyone's happy and 500 miles away, Sacramento Kings fans are saying, "We feel ya, Ray."

Sam Alipour is based in Los Angeles. His Media Blitz column appears regularly in ESPN The Magazine and occasionally on Page 2. You can reach him at sam.alipour@gmail.com.

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Sam Alipour is a Senior Writer at ESPN Magazine and contributor to ESPN and ESPN.com. Contact him at sam.alipour@gmail.com and on Twitter.