The commodification of Kobe Bryant in LA sports culture is a prime example of late-stage capitalism

The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled out all the stops for their Shohei Ohtani pitch. That included bringing back Kobe Bryant from the dead.

Bryant recorded the video as a favor to the team back in 2017, when the Dodgers were preparing a recruitment plan for the then-Nippon Professional Baseball transfer. “That was one of the highlights of the whole meeting,” Ohtani told ESPN through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “I was really surprised to see it. It was a strong and touching message.” This pitch just took things to another level. Whatever humanity and identity Bryant had left posthumously has been stripped from him. He has just become this simulacrum for Los Angeles sports culture and marketing. If the Dodgers hadn’t already recorded this six years ago, it feels like the kind of video that would have been made with AI. Hell, it was weird when Bryant recorded it in 2017. It’s always odd when athletes from other sports get involved in the star recruitment. The year before the Dodgers had Bryant record that video, Tom Brady got involved in the Boston Celtics’ recruitment of Kevin Durant. Bryant’s video obviously wasn’t the only factor in Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Dodgers. No other team in baseball could offer him the record-setting $700 million contract. Los Angeles’ roster does offer Ohtani the best chance to win a ring by virtue of pure talent. Just let Bryant rest.