Brother from Another: Being “The Man”

Posted on November 7, 2011

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By Kimit Trotman

“There’s a man who plays the game of life so well. There’s a man His thoughts you can never tell”. These are the lyrics from a Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson song from the album Pipes of Peace. A sentiment that describes both McCartney and Kobe Bryant from their beginnings in their respected kingdoms, to the worldwide charities that they participate in these, two kings hold court as far as the eye can see.

Humble beginnings? Well sort of. Sir James Paul McCartney was born on June 18, 1942. At age 15 Paul met John Lennon and three years later they would form arguably the greatest rock and roll band of all time – The Beatles. They helped create some of the greatest songs of all time, but Paul always played second fiddle to John.

Similarly, when Kobe Bryant was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers from the Charlotte Hornets on the day of the 1996 NBA draft, he also played the back up role to an already established Shaquille O’Neal as the Laker’s dynasty was reborn. It’s been widely speculated that one of the biggest reasons that The Beatles parted ways was the tension derived from the in-band rivalry between McCartney and Lenin. In Kobe’s case, however, there is no need to speculate why Shaq and Kobe split. Their relationship was rocky from day 1 of training camp during Kobe’s rookie season, and only got worse as time went on, reaching a boiling point after Kobe was accused of rape in Colorado prior to the 2003 season (Check out this excerpt from Shaq’s forthcoming book for more details).

Critics across the basketball world said Kobe would not vindicate himself until he won an NBA title without The Diesel. It took him a few painful years but then Kobe did something only one other Laker great had ever done; he beat the Boston Celtics in the Finals, thus cementing his legacy in Lakers lore, and reigniting the question of where Bryant stands amongst the greatest of all time.

After the split of The Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney launched a new music career which featured countless hits and collaborations with music’s premier artists. McCartney has toured the world with Wings and continuously made chart topping hits. He proved himself to be one of the greatest song writers of all time. Solo, both of these giants brought themselves to a new level of fame and notoriety, using the tremendous success from their previous collaborations as motivation to reach amazing new heights.

Its not a given that someone with boat loads of money will give back, and even if they do, who is to say it’s with true intentions. Well when it comes to these superstars they do more than just give back. Kobe is the official ambassador for After School All-Stars, a program that helps students all across the country from disadvantaged backgrounds. Another of Bryant’s charities is the Vijay Amritrah Foundation, which supports pediatric HIV/AIDS research in New Delhi. Sir Paul McCartney is an ambassador for PETA as well as War Child, and the Dorset Wildlife Trust. Both of these men have donated countless hours and money for the betterment of this world. They are selfless, giving anything they can to protect children from disease, and prevent the unethical treatment of animals and people worldwide.

While they come from different places and times. Both of these men have proven themselves to be “The Man”. Whether they are under the bright lights or behind the scenes saving the day. Both have been recognized for sheer dominance in their respective crafts and they continue to make this world a better place for everyone that comes in contact with them “off the court” so to speak. “There’s a man who plays the game of life so well…”

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