With Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson now officially added to America’s endless list of popular attention whores, the makeover of whoring is now complete.
It’s cool to be a whore.
For young people in their 20s and teens, this is old news. All they’ve ever known is cool whores. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are their role models, Madonna and Dennis Rodman are their godparents, Wilt Chamberlain, Joe Namath and Donald Trump are their founding fathers.
For those of us who have reached middle age, we remember when being a whore — or certainly being found in the regular company of one — was something to be ashamed of, something worthy of scorn. That is no longer true.
In the new millennium, whoring is as fashionable as bell-bottom jeans in the 1970s. It’s so pervasive that traditional whoring has suffered a collapse similar to the housing market. Gone are the days when high-powered men such as Eliot Spitzer paid $3,000 to $4,000 an hour for the company of a well-groomed courtesan.
Kim Kardashian changed the game. Whoring is now primarily focused on attention, not money, and it’s a game men play as adeptly as women.
Which brings me back to Kobe and Phil, sidelined NBA legends thirsting for some attention. Twitter is the best little attention whorehouse in all 50 states. Open for business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Twitter is the world’s red-light district.
Kobe and Phil have their heels on, cleavage out and they’re perched in storefront windows batting eyes, licking their lips, baiting men and women to stop and look.
Much to the dismay of Mike D’Antoni, Kobe live-tweeted the Lakers’ Game 1 playoff loss to the Spurs. It was fascinating analysis and insight from the ultimate Lakers insider.
“Gotta milk Pau in the post right now and D12. Will get good looks from it,” Kobe tweeted.
“Matador defense on Parker. His penetration is hurting us,” Kobe added.
Kobe’s tweets were so fascinating that the TV broadcasters started talking about them. And the next thing you know, Phil couldn’t contain himself and he started tweeting at and about Kobe.
“@kobe was coaching this one. He was on the beam,” Phil tweeted.
Kobe responded by admitting he felt helpless being away from the team and Phil added: “No, you were right on…it’ll drive you bananas to just watch the ship go down. Just one game down — get one road win.”
With Kobe and Phil on Twitter, the Lakers-Spurs seemed like the Blu-ray director’s cut of Kim Kardashian’s sex tape with commentary from Kim and a surprise guest appearance by Ray J.
It was two guys attention-whoring. Kobe is home nursing his torn Achilles. Phil doesn’t have a job at the moment. This is their time of year — playoffs, nationally televised games and packed arenas. Phil and Kobe are used to constant adoration, attention, cheers and boos raining on them. Twitter is their new Staples Center.
I’m not knocking their hustle. I’m a Twitter attention whore, too (@whitlockjason). Kobe has more than 2 million followers. He’s a high-priced whore. I have 167,000 followers. I’m a streetwalker turning tricks for 40 and 50 retweets. Kobe gets a couple of thousand retweets per tweet. He’s Heidi Fleiss.
But you would think Kobe and Phil would be above attention whoring. You would think, given their accomplishments and level of fame, they would seek a respite from all the attention. You would think, given their affinity for Zen, they wouldn’t be interested in diverting attention away from the people actually playing the game.
They’re not Shaquille O’Neal, an early pioneer on Twitter who throughout his career courted intimacy with fans and the media with his oversized playful personality. Kobe and Phil are intellectuals, book readers, philosophizers. They’re not Brett Favre, a good-old-boy from the South and the most well-known superstar athlete attention whore.
Kobe and Phil are tastemakers. Their embrace of Twitter’s narcissism and hey-look-at-me attitude speaks to how far this nation has come in its acceptance and admiration of whoring.