Anybody whose been on the internet today knows that NBA legend Kobe Bryant made history last night, by playing his final game and scoring an astounding 60 points in the contest, more than anybody who has watched Kobe’s aging body ease him into retirement this season had any right to expect. Last night, an evening that also featured the Golden State Warriors get their NBA record 73rd win this season, is one of the more exciting days in recent NBA history, but there is one footnote from Kobe’s final game that’s also worth mentioning.
Flea, the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers who has lived in Los Angeles since 1972 and has been a Lakers season ticket holder since 1997, put his stamp on the festivities by playing the National Anthem on bass, routing it through pedals that gave it a funky and fuzzed-out sound. A unique performance on a stage as large is this was bound to draw polarizing reactions, and that it did.
One sports commentator said that Francis Scott Key was “clawing at the lid of his casket,” and another person said Flea “looked and sounded like he literally lives under the bridge downtown.” A less vocal minority enjoyed the unconventional spin on “The Star Spangled Banner,” and hopefully a subsection of both groups appreciated the sentimentality of the moment.
Flea has long been an admirer of Kobe, telling Rolling Stone, “I’ve watched, listened to, or at least read about pretty much every game that Kobe Bryant played his entire career. And I see someone who put a lot of stock in discipline and work ethic and nurturing his creativity. I just have always respected him so much–even when he was young and arrogant and foolish and you know, arguably self-centered. He’s always meant so much to me.”
Given that Flea is a member of one of the most prominent bands of the past three decades, we have to imagine that the admiration is mutual.
Image: Ben Houdijk