Meet Joe Bamba (not to be confused w/Mo Bamba)
Today, I am going to discuss the unique and crazy career of two of the most famous people in the history of...well maybe the last 100 years.
Ever hear someone say "Kobe!" while shooting a piece of paper in the trash?
Ever hear "well I am not into guys, but if Brad Pitt was asking me to get some drinks and we got drunk..." or "look I am no Brad Pitt"...yes you have (well maybe that first one was a little dramatic- maybe that is just me!)
The bottom line is that Brad Pitt, while not a top 10 actor by talent or skill, is a top 10 most famous actor in the last century. Kobe Bryant is in some people's top 10s while in most top 20 lists. But he is easily the most famous baller in the last 30 years not named MJ, Shaq, or Lebron. And he may be above Shaq to be honest.
Their careers, nearly parallel by year, are unbelievably similar. And here, I will explain.
The rise and wow moments: mid 90s-1999.
The "holy shit this person is a young star": 1999-2004
The "troubled individual"- 2004-2007
The peak after youth- 2008-2013
The after prime, weird times- 2013-present
The end- 2017-2047?
Let's start with mid 90s, naturally.
Kobe as a star in high school that people were talking about. A guy who would sabotage games to stage a 20 point second half come back. Routinely. A guy who went straight to the pros with swagger and came out with a video game a year later and shoes a year after that.
Kobe averaged just 7 points his rookie year, but that was in 15 mpg and on 6 shots per game (little did he know that 9 years later he would be shooting nearly 5 times that amount)
His next year he averaged 15 and became very popular, being an Allstar.
His third year, he averaged 20/5/4 and really became a household name, as it was a season that lacked MJ.
Brad Pitt had been in movies such as A River Runs Through It and Interview with the Vampire in the early 90s, but came out with Se7en, Twelve Monkeys, Sleepers, and Meet Joe Black in a four year stretch, becoming a legit superstar in the industry at age 34, despite looking 26. He was slowly becoming a solid actor. Obviously, very good looking, but with range, as he is a decent man with a temper in Se7en, then basically a crazy man in Twelve Monkeys.
All the while, these two men needed some help- some older guidance and talent, to help their careers. Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Kevin Bacon, Robert Di Nero, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins...I mean look at those guys this young man got to work with...six of the best fifty to ever do it maybe.
Kobe got Phil Jackson as coach, Shaq, Robert Horry, AC Green, Rick Fox. More help than likely 90% of teams he could have joined. A top 5 coach and a top 5 big man ever at age 20.
By 1999, these guys are oozing success. Kobe 22/6/5 and leads his team, with Shaq, to the NBA title, getting his first ring at age 21.
Brad Pitt, fresh off of Meet Joe Black, does Fight Club and Snatch in 99 and 2000. Wow. He officially became a sex symbol with Fight Club, just like Kobe became a legit top 10 player in NBA. They both became stars on a mass level and got a cult following in this time.
Kobe proceeded to win 2 more in 2001 and 2002, when Brad was making Spy Game and Ocean's Eleven.
Clearly, they still need some star power to keep chugging along, as most people do, as Pitt needed Norton's timid but interesting character in Fight Club, Statham and Benecio in Snatch, Redford in Spy Game, and Clooney mainly in Ocean's (Damon was the rookie in the movie).
Kobe still needed his cast and a 360 pound Shaq that ate 30-15 games like a drunk white person eats take out Chinese food.
Then BAM! 2003-2004 changes things. Pitt films Troy and Ocean's Twelve. Two very entertaining movies. Kobe averages 24, not his best, but fun to watch.
But Kobe loses in the Finals to the Pistons. And Brad Pitt loses to...Angelina Jolie when agreeing to shoot Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Think about this. Kobe committed infidelity at basically the height of his powers, in summer 2003 after averaging 30/7/6/2 even while having to share shots with Shaq (!). The 2003-2004 season was hectic. He had to welcome Payton and Malone, deal with sharing team with Shaq, who he thought clowned around too much, and had to deal with court hearings about being accused of rape at age 24.
-Had Nicole Kidman been able to shoot Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt's life would be different. Instead, NK had a conflicting schedule, so the lusty Jolie got the part. From there, the two free spirits that also happened to be in the top 0.000001% of attractiveness in America started to really vibe and like eachother in 2004 while filming.
Think about this! They started filming January 2004, took a break, while he filmed Ocean's Twelve. They resume filming in August, and things are apparently hot and heavy. He is married to Aniston still and apparently doing well. He and Aniston vacation in December and Jan. They split in Jan 2005. In March 2005, they announce they are separating.
In April of 2005, Pitt vacation with Jolie and her son. This is 3 months after he vacationed with Aniston. What a fucking life this guy had. "Yeah 90 days ago I was doing Aniston doggystyle... and now Jolie is sucking my balls (graphic sorry) while I watch the NBA Playoffs...wait where is Kobe Bryant and the Lakers?"
They suck. Shaq is gone. The team is in shambles. They aren't in the playoffs. Kobe has good stats but a bad team.
Pitt goes to Mr. and Mrs. Smith premiers with Jolie and his divorce is finalized in the Fall of 2005. He gets her pregnant in August of 2005, just five months after splitting with Aniston, who America loves at this point (and before that and since to be honest).
Is Jennifer Aniston not a little like Shaq? Good since 1990 and still great to watch?
Both Kobe and Pitt caused the splits of Kobe-Shaq, and Bradifer or whatever...
Both Pitt and Kobe went thru some crazy ass years in 2004 and 2005..
Then BOOM! The troubled individual and the bounce backs.
Kobe comes out and leads his team to the playoffs in 2005-2006, scoring 81 in Jan of 2006 and averaging 35 ppg on 27 shots per game! 27!
Pitt comes out and is now banging Hollywood's bad girl.
He comes out with Babel, Ocean's Thirteen, and Assassination of Jesse James, all good flicks that showed he was even better at acting, and still aging well. Speaking of which, he then came out with Ben Button in 2008 at age 44, a movie basically saying Brad Pitt is capable of looking 30 when he is 44, and with some computer generation, can look 22 at age 44.
Meanwhile, Kobe in his twelfth year (which is like an actor's 30th), leads his team to the Finals and averages 28ppg on 36% on 3 pointers, which is very good especially for a streaky shooter like he was.
He loses to Celtics, but still proves, I am here and I am a legend! Much like Pitt in Button and in 2009's Inglourious Bastards. POW! Pitt kills it. CRACK! Kobe wins another ring in 2009.
The public has basically forgotten that Pitt likely cheated on Aniston and ended one of Hollywood's coolest couples ever (next to Ryan-Blake of today and Goldie-Kurt of the past). They have forgotten by now that Kobe cheated on his wife, making the "victim" bleed.
They now love Pitt and Kobe again.
Kobe wins another ring, and even after that, continues to average 27ppg into his 30s, even if his team starts dropping and eventually sucks, bad.
But he can still play.
Pitt can play too. He comes out with Moneyball, Killing them Softly, World War Z, 12 Years a Slave, and Fury from 2011-2014, during the last great years of Kobe.
Kobe gets hurt. The Lakers suck. And he is done. But he does average 22ppg at age 36 in '14-15. Pitt is the fourth character in the Big Short, still good, but becoming an afterthought in Hollywood.
Lebron, KD, Curry, RW, and Harden are the guys, just like Leo, Hardy, Bale, Matthew M, Hemsworth, and Pratt by 2015. The times are changing.
Kobe has one last hurrah in 2016, scoring 60 in his final game, shooting the ball 50 times, a league record in his last game. Hilarious to think. He knew the record, and breaks it at age 37.
Pitt produced the Lost City of Z, which got great reviews. Then produced Moonlight, which won Best Picture. Still a star.
Since then, Kobe has turned down studio gigs, likely coaching jobs, and is more of an investor and guru/wise man, growing a beard and turning 40 this year. I personally remember him well at age 20, with the mini fro and goatee and the swag.
Pitt turns 55 this year, has lost like 40 lbs, and is now striving to become an artist, last I checked, getting back to his creative side. He and Jolie broke up. Who knows of his future. Who knows of Kobe's. Kobe now has a show to analyze players and plays. Pitt is set to appear next to Leo this summer...
Who knows how many rings Kobe and Shaq could've won. I'd say 4 or 5 more. Who knows how Pitt's life could've turned out had he stayed with Aniston, making beautiful babies and more light hearted movies (likely). Staying the most powerful of all power couples.
I do know one thing- these guys started as young punks with natural ability, and made it to the top, staying there for nearly 20 years each. We will still be talking about them in 2030. And that is the story of Joe Mamba.