I think it was three seasons ago I stood in a nearly empty Lakers locker room, chatting with Kobe Bryant.* Tired of talking basketball, his mind soon wandered to Hollywood.
"You know, Brian," he said, "this hoops thing has worked out pretty well, I'd say, but at the same time I've always been a little jealous of people like Harrison Ford, Al Pacino, Michael Douglas, George Lucas, Doris Day, Natalie Wood, Yul Brenner, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks, and Joan Crawford. People who have had their hands and feet immortalized outside the Chinese Theater in Hollywood."
"That, Brian, would be really cool."
Well, it took a while, but Kobe is finally getting his wish. On February 19th, he'll become the first athlete have his hands and feet imprinted outside Grauman's Chinese. Interestingly enough, Bryant will make his acting debut (a recent cameo on "Modern Family" and a turn as "Terry Hightower" on "Moesha" back in '96, notwithstanding) in a Robert Rodriguez-directed short film put together in conjunction with Nike. (I can't help but think the two are related. Either that, or the folks at Grauman's have seen the dailies and find his performance VERY compelling.)
However, if you're hoping later next month to play your own personal game of Hand'n'Footprint Twister outside Grauman's with Kobe and a bunch of Hollywood luminaries ("Right foot, Bette Davis! Left foot, Marx Brothers! Right hand, Kobe! Left hand, Travolta!"), you may be disappointed. NBCLA.com quotes a spokesperson for the theater noting Bryant's imprints won't be on permanent display out front in the prime real estate with the other giants of cinema.
Which is fair, to say the least. Still, it should be a fun day, part of a very busy All-Star weekend for Bryant. If any non-acting athlete deserves the nod, he makes as much sense as anyone. Certainly Kobe has provided L.A. with plenty of entertainment over the years.
*Actual conversation may not have happened.