Black Mamba (pictured) with Great White shark.
Black Mamba (pictured) with Great White shark.

Tribute: 12-foot Great White shark named “Kobe Bryant” honoring Laker legend who dove with them to learn “devastatingly vicious basketball skills!”

The patience. The timing. The angles.

Great White sharks are very skilled at many things including eating men, scaring people, getting their pâté eaten by Killer Whales and starring in movies but did you know they are also experts in basketball offensive and defensive schemes?

It is, apparently, true. Laker legend Kobe Bryant, whose life was tragically cut short in a recent helicopter crash, used to study the apex predators in order to learn how to stuff fifty points down Allen Iverson’s gullet with devastating, unstoppable, vicious skills while holding the Philly star to nothing.

Zero points.

Extremely heartless. Great White style.

Now, Kobe has a Great White named after him. A 12-foot young adult swimming off of Guadalupe Island and let us meet this famous jr.

The photographer who first captures full-body pictures of the left and right side of a shark can pick its name, but many are just known by a number.

This shark was #24 — which was also one of the numbers Bryant wore as a Los Angeles Laker.

That’s not the only connection between Bryant and the shark.

Martin Graf, the diver, who photographed #24, actually took Bryant in a shark cage back in 2013 and gave him an up-close look at two great whites.

“He got into our cages and he spent a good short chunk of the day, hanging out on the boat and in the cages,” she said. Bryant told Graf that he became interested in sharks when he was living in Italy as a kid, she said.

The designs of some of Bryant’s Nike shoes were inspired by sharks and he wrote in a 2017 article for The Players’ Tribune that he studied great whites to help him prepare to guard Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson.

In the piece, Kobe writes:

On March 19, 1999, Iverson put 41 points and 10 assists on me in Philadelphia.

Working harder wasn’t enough.

I had to study this man maniacally.

I obsessively read every article and book I could find about AI. I obsessively watched every game he had played, going back to the IUPU All-American Game. I obsessively studied his every success, and his every struggle. I obsessively searched for any weakness I could find.

I searched the world for musings to add to my AI Musecage.

This led me to study how great white sharks hunt seals off the coast of South Africa.

The patience. The timing. The angles.

Wonderful but as surfers, as ocean warriors, we better up our games as we play against actual sharks.

Time for all of us to head into the video room, notebooks open, Shark Week on.


Many skills to learn.

Miracle: Young Australian charger brought back from dead seconds before family pulls plug, credits surfing with saving brain from damage!

"Everything I did to train for the surf saved my life that day."

And of all the thing surfing has gifted your life, the cancerous skin, inability to enjoy family time when there are waves, pronounced grouchiness, heightened grouchiness, wasted time etc. would you ever guess that it might one day also save your brain from extensive damage if you fall into a coma and nearly die?

It’s true, unbelievably true, and we must fly digitally to meet our hero in Western Australia where they breed them tough, strong and true. A young man with a name so west Australian that it only needs be uttered to smell the vineyards and road killed kangaroos baking under a warm sun.

Targe Hough.

And, a bit of backstory, Targe was out exercising when he felt a migraine coming on and went down. Out. Coma. His family learned from the doctors that the 22-year-old had a rare condition that led to an aneurysm and “bleak” prognosis and they agreed to honor his wishes and yank the plug.


But fate intervened when a new doctor came in and advised the family to wait just a few more days.

Within that time span, Targe suddenly began to shows signs of life, slowly making movements, and finally woke up four weeks later.

Despite a grueling recovery process, he revealed he didn’t suffer brain damage thanks to his training as a surfer, which taught him how to hold his breath for extended periods of time.

‘I was without oxygen for a long time, doctors said afterwards that I should have brain damage, but I guess I was used to holding my breath,’ he said.

‘Everything I did to train for the surf saved my life that day.’

And have you ever read a happier story?

Everything I have done to train for the surf journalism has saved my life too.

Oh wait…

While we’re together though, what are your instructions, either stated or internal, on what happens if you fall into severe coma?

How long would you like to, would you like to let it linger?

Who has history treated more kindly, Tiger or Jordy? | Photo: Surf shot by WSL

Great moments in surf biz: Jordy Smith thumbs nose at Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and $5 million Nike contract!

In the light of Hurley's implosion and subsequent ripple effect to other surf co's, it's a decision that now seems positively divine.

Two thousand and eight seems a lifetime ago, don’t it.

I was busying myself on a niche magazine, had friends, a functioning hip, children, a wife that was in love with me more or less, cash in the bank and a  dark side which I was careful to only explore while abroad.

Like I said, a lifetime ago.

But it was in the otherwise unremarkable year of 2008 when twenty-year-old Jordy Smith, touted, then, as a world title certainty, made a decision that, in the light of Hurley’s recent implosion and subsequent ripple effect to other surf co’s, seems positively divine,

Do you remember?

Big bidding war.

Everyone wants the kid before his rookie year on tour.

Eventually the suitors slim down to O’Neill and Nike.

Nike offers five-mill, O’Neil two.

Nike pulls in the heavy-hitters.

Tiger Wood calls Jordy. They speak for forty-five minutes.

Michael Jordan sends Jordy an email reflecting on the similarities of their name. Jordan Michael Smith. 

An advertising campaign is planned with the slogan Air Jordy. 

Jordy receives, in the mail, the boot Ronaldo used to kick a goal in a World Cup final.

Another day, he gets a set of Tiger’ clubs.

Jordy is flown to Nike’s US headquarters to meet the company’s co-founder Phil Knight.

“He gave me advice on how he went about it when he was my age, and told me about the company he was with,” Smith will tell The Sydney Morning Herald. “It was kind of baffling in the beginning. You don’t know what to say because he’s such a high-profile guy, but you just cruise with it.”

So what’s Jordy do?

He signs with O’Neill, for three million bucks less, because they’re in the game for the long haul.

A dozen years later, he’s got a beach house at Log Cabins, is successfully enduring marriage, is rated third in the world and, still…


He draws honey from the O’Neill teat, long after Nike, and now Hurley, gave up on surf.

A prophet, one might say.

Pete Mel, same innocence and sadness as always, at the Nazaré firing range. | Photo: WSL

Comment Live: The Gender Bias Free Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge!

Men fight women to the death and no Team USA!

Shortly, ten tow-teams, two of which feature women, will complete in forty-to-fifty-foot waves at Nazaré in Portugal.

The ten teams are built, mostly, around countries of origin.

There’s Team World, Brazil, Great Britain, Australia, Portugal, Europe and France alongside Team Justine (featuring France’s Justine Dupont and a non-surfing driver), Team Atlantic (with South African Grant Baker and Portugal’s Antonio Silva) and Team Young Bulls (Brazilian Lucas Chianca and Hawaiian Kai Lenny).

The two women, Brazil’s Maya Gabeira and Justine Dupont are noted for their bravado even in the face of death, as Maya explained six years ago when she was brought back to life on the beach at Nazaré after snapping her leg and drowning.

Faces. Just people and remembering that I had almost drowned and where I was and a lot of water, water, water. And I was throwing up. It took a long time in my brain to come back and for me to open my eyes but as soon as I did I kinda knew where I was because it was so salty and it was so wet. I just could tell I had just drowned.”

I asked Maya of her first memory after being revived.

Faces. Just people and remembering that I had almost drowned and where I was and a lot of water, water, water. And I was throwing up. It took a long time in my brain to come back and for me to open my eyes but as soon as I did I kinda knew where I was because it was so salty and it was so wet. I just could tell I had just drowned.”

Nazaré is a pretty seaside town and is named after the hometown of Jesus, and what is now called the Arab capital of Israel.

Portugal is deeply Roman Catholic after all.

The contest works like this.

It’s a four-hour expression session. No elimination. Option to run longer if the joint is pumping.

Rotating heat format and priority system that means there’ll always be five teams in the water.

Each team gets two, one-hour heats.

When the contest finishes, “a nominating panel” will dive through the footage of the day and pick the best waves as finalists.

At the awards ceremony, later tonight, the surfers and “a group of expert judges” will watch and vote for Men’s Wave of the Day, Women’s Wave of the Day and Team Champions and The Jogos Santa Casa Commitment Award.

Notable for their absence is Team USA.

Click here in about five hours to watch. 

Question: Did Oprah Winfrey’s right hand just swindle our dear pro surfing like “Professor” Harold Hill swindled the “Iowa Stubborn” people of River City?

We have trouble.

Big promises, no? Big, big promises of understanding, love, passion, pasión and knowledge. Smiles, SUPing, success.Wild, wild, success and has a metaphor ever rang so true as Erik “ELo” Logan swinging into Santa Monica in order to save professional surfing from itself as the old-timey musical The Music Man where a swindler swang into a small midwestern town with a shiny suit and million dollar smile?

The Music Man.

You’ve seen, or are at least aware, and is Erik “ELo” Logan not he?

Not a modern-ish version of “Professor” Harold Hill promising to change fortunes while being clueless?

To whit, I’ve been covering professional surfing, as a lifestyle, for fifteen years.

Fifteen years.

Never in any one of those have I seen such an absolute dearth of content as I have in the past year plus.

Crickets for days. For weeks.


Not one bit one content outside the surf contest worth clicking on. Worth investing in.

It is exactly what Harold Logan was brought in to do. Exactly what he promised.

A whole universe of coverage. Learned from the lap of Oprah Winfrey herself.

Except… crickets.

No content. No fun. No stories. No nothing.


Silence even though wall-to-wall fun was promised.

Mr. Plate Lunch Ashton Goggans, we turn our lonely eyes to you.

Here we are now. Entertain us.

(Also, dear Ash, try the poke bowl! We need you and I worry about cholesterol etc.)