EAGLE, CO -- Unable to land a contract with an NBA team willing to let him pursue his goal of winning a championship all by himself, Kobe Bryant was granted his own expansion team on the steps of the Eagle, Colorado courthouse after the 45th day of arcane pre-trial hearings yesterday. He will be the Eagle Ego's owner, GM, coach and only player.
The, uh, team will play the season in the $1.7 billion, 18,000 seat Wackenhut Centre in downtown Eagle. The state-of-the-art arena will feature such amenities as: 25 medium-security and 40 maximum-security luxury suites; private phone booths; a jewellery boutique; an on-site duty counsel office; and the swank, 1,500-capacity Posse Lounge.
The team name was chosen from a short list of finalists that included the Kobes, the Bryants, and the KBs.
League commissioner David Stern scoffed at the risk of giving Bryant a team in light of his upcoming rape trial. "My lawyers say he's out in two max even if he does get time in the cooler. And in 2005-06, he'd be locked down while the rest of the league is locked out anyway, so it's really only a one-year gamble. Speaking of gambling, didn't we let Jordan retire for two years instead of suspending him for gambling away the gross domestic product of Tanzania? Kobe's got that same kind of marketing cachet the NBA's brand's association with narcissism and rampant lawlessness."
Stern said that the league will release two schedules for the upcoming season, to accommodate for the possibility that Bryant may have to play all his games at home if prison prevents him from crossing state lines.
Bryant will be allowed to collect the league's full team salary cap amount, which will no doubt help legal bills that are, well, skying like Kobe himself. Stern did impose a special clause which prohibits Bryant from spending more than 25% of this money on guilt bling-bling for his wife Vanessa.
"I imagine he'll run the same offense that we saw for most of the Pistons series--throwing up wild shots with six hands in his face with a few seconds left on the shot clock," said defrocked announcer Marv Albert. "He'll need to average about 225 points a game and I just don't see it happening even if he is so accustomed to playing one-on-five."
But Portland Trail Blazers' owner Paul Allen expressed fear of his new division rival. "I just hope my players don't give away our playbook during exercise time."
Former Lakers' coach Phil Jackson's reaction was mixed. "I won nine titles with teams that basically played two-on-five, so I can see Kobe maybe sliding into the seventh or eighth playoff seed in the West. But if there's one player who could bitch about not getting enough shots as the only guy on his team, it's Kobe," said the Zen Master over the unmistakable sound of gurgling bongwater.
Bryant was unable to comment due to a court-imposed gag order.