The Internet is a terrible place.
Thankfully, within the worldwide abyss of darkness, there are a few examples of joy that make the filth seem tolerable. The thing about these pockets of good, however, is that the best ones are not found on purpose. They can't be sought out. You have to accidentally stumble across these goldmines.
This was the case as two sports-related events accidentally led me to the Internet's Eighth Wonder of the World. The first: Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson, in his spare time, interviews athletes on his web series, The Real Rob Report. This became big news earlier this week, as he landed an interview with Darrelle Revis, who spoke candidly with his fellow NFLer about his willingness to play for the Jets or whomever decides to take him.
Athletes interviewing athletes. Very interesting.
The second: Kobe Bryant, responding to questions about Ibaka's cheap shot on Blake Griffin, said, "I probably would have smacked him in the mouth."
Kobe being Kobe. Very interesting.
So we have athletes interviewing athletes, and Kobe being Kobe. What about, say, an athlete interviewing Kobe? That's surely never going to happen —
What is this? Where are they? How did this happen? When did this happen? Do either of them know they're being filmed? Who paid for this? Did anyone pay for this?
This show, which had a 13-episode run on Fox SportsNet, beginning on March 9, 2007, premiered with special guest Kobe Bryant. And it is a treasure. A national treasure. There isn't a single thing that's wrong with it.
Just look at the promo video:
"This is what it is. Green screen."
You have to respect the transparency.
"Two couches. Me. Stephon Marbury, a.k.a. Starbury."
I WONDER IF THOSE COUCHES ARE ALSO GREEN-SCREENED?
"We sit down. We just talk about life."
Sadly, they are real couches, but look at that green-screened lineup. If I'm not mistaken, in addition to Kobe Bryant, I see golfer Vijay Singh, Girls critic Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, '90s comedian Adam Sandler, Red Hook Summer director Spike Lee, NBA owner Mark Cuban, no. 82 at some point for the Bengals, and the recently retired Shawne Merriman.
Very impressive, "Stars on Stars." Keep going, Starbury.
"We just talk about whatever you do."
Though the simplest phrase, isn't that what every interview essentially boils down to? Thank you, Stephon, for eliminating the fluff and getting straight to the point. One comment, though: Maybe sit up in that hilariously plush chair that you refer to as a couch. Also, maybe work with a different clothing color scheme next time. You're kind of blending in with the furniture.
"Nothing more, nothing less."
Whatever you say, Steph.
"I'm taking you on a ride. What more could you ask for?"
"It's Stars on Stars. On Fox SportsNet. Check us out?"
So this is the best. There's no denying that. Through careful examination of this promo, as well as a quick IMDb scan of "Stars on Stars with Stephon Marbury," it's clear this is deeper than Stephon and Kobe.
But for now, let's focus on these two. It's for your own good, because once you're done watching this, you'll have nothing left to give.
Season 1, Episode 1: March 9, 2007. Guest: Kobe Bryant.
Tagline: "Stars on Stars" gives you all access to one of the greatest players in the NBA — Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.
Spoiler Alert: This is the most comfortable Kobe Bryant has ever been in an interview. Ever. Stephon Marbury did that.
Part 1 (of 4)
Stephon starts the interview with a commonality between the two men — their kids. One of his first questions:
"Who did it resemble?"
More Marbury, on letting the kids sleep in the room with the parents:
"See, I made that mistake of letting my daughter sleep with me. That's like the worst mistake I ever made, because you be in the room with your wife and, you be laying down and you wanna, you know, and it's like it's not happening."
And then Kobe goes on to essentially tell us that for his daughter, "Barney Time" = "Nap Time" = "KOBE AND VANESSA TIME."
Following that, Kobe, describing putting his daughter's hair in pigtails:
They go on to talk about growing from kids to young men to men, while balancing being the children of parents and also being parents themselves:
Marbury: "You can never be wiser than them. You can be smarter than them."
Kobe: "You go around the block once, they been around it five, six times. Ain't gonna pull a fast one on them. They know a lot more than we do. Especially when it comes to kids."
Marbury: "Like, when they get a fever, putting a potato in the bed."
Kobe: "A potato in the bed?"
Marbury: "Yeah, the potato, it sucks the fever out."
Marbury: "I don't know, like when they get the hiccups, putting strings on their forehead."
After discussing where they got the string from, Marbury does a quick transition into Kobe's childhood in Italy.
(CUE ITALY GREEN-SCREEN BACKDROP)
Part 2 (of 4)
This part starts with Kobe acknowledging how they're "old men now," followed by Kobe discussing the two Lakers that mentored him when he came into the league — Eddie Jones and Byron Scott — while Marbury counters with Michael Williams, Sam Mitchell, and Terry Porter.
Something worth noting — this green screen magical world behind them reacts to the words that Kobe or Starbury say extremely quickly. Not half a second after Marbury said "playing against John Stockton":
And then they get into the draft. THEIR draft. The legendary 1996 NBA draft.
Marbury: "I think we had the best. We was coming in that span where it was like, 'we know we nice.'"
Kobe: "And that didn't go over too well."
Marbury: "They didn't like that."
Kobe: "They misunderstood our confidence for arrogance or a lack of appreciation for the generation that came before us, which wasn't the case. We're just here trying to do what we do."
Marbury: "Times was changing."
Kobe: "And now we're the old dogs."
Kobe-initiated exchange of dap. He's having the time of his life.
Marbury continues with the draft class:
Marbury: "It's so unique to say you were in a class with Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Shareef Abdul-Rahim, Kerry Kittles, Antoine Walker, Steve Nash, Stojakovic I mean, you think about our class, Ray Allen I mean, it's like seven, eight cats that signed for the max. I'm just thinking, if they hadn't put that ceiling over our head "
Kobe: "Yeah, it woulda been problems for the league."
So this is great, but it gets better. Marbury completely forgets he's hosting a show or being televised, a common trend that makes him an unrefined yet fantastic interviewer. On Garnett's max contract:
Marbury: "I'm talking about, he went in there and was like, 'PUT THE MONEY IN THE BAG.' You know what I'm saying, I was like 'ooh, KG just hit 'em for 126.'"
And then they go on to talk about how many hundreds of millions of dollars they all wanted to make, followed by a quick introspective conversation on how blessed they are that ball took them so far.
Part 3 (of 4)
Marbury begins this section by admitting he wants to get to a point of success that Kobe has reached. While that is important, I'd be remiss to discuss this interview without a few words on Marbury's sunglasses placement:
This is the exact look I sported to approximately 73 bar/bat mitzvahs between 2000 and 2001. That's really all that needs to be said about this.
Moving on, Marbury demands that Kobe tell him about the 81-point game. His setup:
Marbury: "The last person that did this was Wilt, and he's from Philly. So, you know, you gotta tell me, like, when you was warming up, because sometimes, you know, when you're shooting your jumpers before the game, you're like 'Oh, my joint feeling real wet tonight.'"
Kobe: "I didn't feel like I was in the zone or anything like that, I just felt like I could get to wherever I wanted."
Marbury: "Come on, man."
Marbury: "You don't feel like you was in the zone at all?"
Kobe: "I didn't. Not until the fourth quarter, at the end, I felt like everything I threw up was going to go in, but prior to that, I mean, it was just about 'I can get to any spot on the floor. And get a good look. And once I get a good luck, it's on me to put the ball in the hole.'"
Rapping up the 81-point talk, Marbury hits Kobe with one more hard-hitter:
Marbury: "Have you watched that game again?"
Kobe: "Not in its entirety, I haven't watched it in its entirety, I kind of put that on the shelf."
I get it, Kobe. I haven't watched my high school graduation speech, either. I GET IT.
Marbury, what say you to Kobe's shelf:
"That's memoirs. Come on, man."
Unless there's some sort of Coney Island patois that I don't know about that turns "memories" into "memoirs," I'm forced to believe he said "memoirs," which is just a fantastic word to use right there. Continue, Starbury:
Marbury: "That's like the game you go back and be like 'Man, let me see what I really, really was doing out there.'"
Kobe: "One day, I will."
Oh, hello there:
Marbury knew before the rest of us that Kobe's favorite topic of conversation is his 81-point game. Unsurprisingly, it took the rest of us six years to catch up and find that out.
And then Marbury launches into the topic of Kobe and the Lakers not making the playoffs.
It's like the man wrote the script for 2013. Stephon Marbury might be an oracle.
Marbury: "A lot was made last year when y'all didn't make the playoffs, it was kind of like a shock. And not seeing you in the playoffs was weird, how was that feeling?"
Kobe: "It won't happen next year. It's not gonna happen next year. And we're gonna be ready and I'm going to do all the work that I can do to make sure that doesn't happen."
Part 4 (of 4)
For the final chapter of this beautiful journey, Kobe starts talking about how he loves playing against Bruce Bowen. "He's in great physical condition. And he doesn't stop. And I don't stop." After this, Marbury proceeds to flatter every aspect of Kobe's game, and then Kobe turns into a psychologist.
Kobe: "So that's the psychology of it. Growing up, I used to hear kids say all the time 'I can't guard you, but you can't guard me.' And when I hear somebody say that, I see it as an opportunity. 'OK. So you're conceding the fact that you can't guard me. OK.'
Kobe: "So now you're saying I can't guard you, that's the only chip you have."
Kobe: "So now if I take that chip from you, then what you gonna do?"
Kobe: "You can't play poker no more, you ain't got no chips."
Marbury: "You're dead."
Kobe: "So now you know you can't guard me. You openly admit you can't guard me. Now I guard you and lock you up, now what? Now how you feelin'?"
(CUE BUSINESS-CASUAL KOBE WITH FACIAL HAIR GREEN SCREEN SEGUE)
Next topic: basketball "Stars" being real people. Kobe, on people not believing "Stars" do normal things:
Kobe: "A lady comes up to me and she said, 'You shop?'"
This is what we call "the magic moment."
After Kobe talks about buying his own diapers and pumping his own gas, Marbury, always one to throw in his own two cents, gives his own example:
Marbury: "I was ironing my clothes at our practice facility and one of the dudes that worked for the Knicks was like, 'Yo, you iron?'
Kobe Bryant: VERY AMUSED BY THE REAL TALK.
Marbury continues: "I'm like, what do you mean 'Do I iron?' Yeah, I know how to iron, I can crease 'em, I can have 'em flat, however you want it."
IT GETS BETTER.
Apparently, the "however you want it" struck a nerve with Kobe:
Kobe: "Brotha, I gotta be straight up with you, I know how to iron "
Kobe: "But I'll tear the [ ] out a shirt. Like, I might burn a hole through the joint. Like, you might have the iron shape on the shirt. You know, I'll leave it on there, I start doing something else, I'll turn back around and have a hole in my shirt."
This needs to be in the Library of Congress or the National Archives or something. There isn't anything better than this.
Starbury goes on to discuss his mom and her philosophy of not having wrinkled/hole-filled clothes, including a quote that hit very close to home ("If something happens to you, and you go to the doctor, or if something serious, I don't want you having holey draws or holey socks on").
Kobe's response: "Yeah, it's a bad reflection."
Wrapping it up, Marbury thanks his guest, the first guest on "Stars on Stars," for spending half an hour conducting television's greatest interview.
Marbury: "'Stars on Stars,' for real, East meets West, it's just mad love, man. I just appreciate it, because I know this is something different, for you, because it's hard for you. And I understand that. And we got a lot of love for you, for real, from everybody from Coney Island, New York. Kids love you and we gonna make sure they love you even more."
This almost brought a tear to my eye. And then, the ultimate kicker.
Kobe Bean Bryant: "This is the best show I've done."
Stephon Marbury did that.