Mike Rice is a mercurial man.
Speaking with Jim Rome, the Black Mamba was asked about what he would have done as a player involved in the Rutgers debacle. And he responded only as the Mamba would.
"I would've smacked the hell outta him," Kobe said.
If you don't believe him, you should. He took to Twitter upon watching the video that surfaced and proclaimed that what Rice was doing wasn't coaching—it was a power trip.
Sounds about right.
The footage below shows Rice cursing at and assaulting his players with basketballs during practice. It was not a pretty sight.
Apologies did little to quell the public perception of what transpired. Kobe wasn't the only NBA player who felt strongly about the Rice scandal.
Rookie Jared Sullinger would have "snapped" and took to the bench before he played for a coach like Rice.
Stephen Curry explained that if his son were on the team, he'd seek immediate transportation to Rice's "soon to be vacant office."
Others weren't as polite as Curry and Sullinger, though. Most were just as graphic as Kobe.
Smack? Whoop? What's with all these innuendos. Just come out and say it already.
Like Ray Allen did.
Talk (especially on social media) is cheap, though. How can we be sure that, put in a similar situation as the Rutgers players, Bryant, among others, would fight back? Those directly involved and impacted by Rice's behavior didn't. Would an 18-year-old Mamba really prove to be an exception.
Kobe himself sure thinks so.
"No question," he said. "Just a year later, I was going at it with Shaq."
Good point. Shaquille O'Neal was 325 pounds of intimidating, yet Bryant wouldn't submit to him. There's no reason to believe, even at 18, he would have conceded to Rice.
After what Rice did, he should consider himself lucky that none of his players reacted the way the Mamba would have. He's also lucky it only cost him his job and reputation and nothing else.
And he's definitely fortunate that his basketball-discharging and profanity-spewing disposition never crossed paths with Kobe.