Published May 24, 2010
It's no secret that Kobe Bryant is one of the most fashion-conscious players in the NBA. Just this year, he's appeared on the cover of GQ and posed in a somewhat bizarre haute couture shoot for Los Angeles Magazine. What can we say? The man can rock an Armani suit and Gucci sunglasses with the kind of confidence that only a fresh $84 million contract extension can afford.
But forget the old saying, because clothes are not the only things that make the man. Kobe has been-there-done-that far too many times for his attire to reveal his true off-the-court character.
To find the rest, you have to look inside his garage.
Assuming you can open up those doors before security beats you back to the second grade, you'll find the family-friendly white Range Rover that Kobe and his wife Vanessa have been spotted in several times. It's a $94,000 SUV with 510 horsepower worth of luxury that's a perfect reflection of its driver - Kobe is a fierce competitor on court, a master in his element. But he's also a devoted father who isn't afraid to leave his daughters' bright pink car seats in full view of paparazzi when he's hitting the town. Similarly, the Range Rover is muscular, capable, and totally at home out in the wild ... but trade the dirt trails of the Sahara for the urban jungle, and this British SUV will quickly settle down and become a graceful luxury car. There's something understated, confident, and dare we say it - menacing - about the Range Rover that complements Kobe as both ballplayer and family man.
The shining star of the garage is the Black Mamba's prized Ferrari F430. It's a screaming beast of a sports car that can accelerate from 0-60 in under four seconds and costs well over $300,000. "I've always wanted a Ferrari - ever since I was a little kid," Kobe confided to Charlie Rose after the purchase of his first, a black 360 Modena. "It feels like you're strapped onto a rocket," smiles Bryant, sounding more like the kid in Italy he once was than the four-time NBA Champion he has become.
The Lakers great is wealthy enough to have any car he wants. That he covets a Ferrari - and specifically the F430 - says a lot about him. The F430 is more focused than other Ferraris. It's not genteel like the front-engine 599 GTB Fiorano or comfortable like the 612 Scaglietti. Rather, the F430 is hard-edged for surgical precision around curves. It demands a serious driver who can pilot the car with conviction. Sounds just like the man who can drive full speed into the teeth of the defense only to stop on a dime and step back into a perfectly crisp and precise fade away. Swish.
For most of us, those cars would be enough, but Bryant is deep and complex. A Bentley Continental GT coupe and Azure Mulliner convertible, symbols of Old World luxury and affluence, reveal the enduring influence of his childhood in Europe. A lifelong student of the game, Bryant no doubt appreciates the dedication and complete mastery of techniques that Bentley craftsmen must develop over the years to build automobiles for such a time-honored marque.
To round out his collection, a Cadillac Escalade humbly serves as transport for family and NBA-size friends, while a 1963 Chevrolet Impala drop-top waits for leisurely cruises along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Together, this fleet tells us far more about Kobe than a suit or pair of jeans. They tell us that Bryant is serious about his craft, inspired by tradition, devoted to his family, and in tune with the city he plays for.
Just one question remains: Which car should Kobe get if he captures a fifth championship ring in a few weeks? A 2011 Fisker Karma? Phil Jackson would probably like that.