Kobe Bryant is coming to town on Friday night for his final visit as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and, predictably, the Atlanta Hawks are responding by pulling out all of the stops to honor the future hall of fame guard. However, the Hawks aren't simply putting together a run-of-the-mill tribute for Bryant in the way that 28 other teams would. Instead, the organization has partnered with Zoo Atlanta to rename its black mamba snake "Kobe".
No, I'm not making this up.
Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, who has proved to be something of a marketing genius since taking over his current role, had this to say via a release from the team:
"Kobe Bryant’s career accomplishments speak for themselves. He has set a standard with his incredible work ethic, tremendous will and competitive spirit. We’re happy to be partnering with Zoo Atlanta to recognize the impact Kobe has made on the NBA and its popularity worldwide."
Koonin's other initiatives include Tinder Night and the wildly popular concert series that has featured T.I., Jeezy and others, and this is yet another example of the organization differentiating itself in an interesting way. There will inevitably be a portion of the fan base that doesn't like this kind of recognition for an opposing player, but it is interesting publicity for the organization, and everyone will remember what Koonin and his staff elected to do.
The game will likely feel secondary to the "Kobe Bryant show" on Friday, but Steve Koonin is doing everything he can do to insert the Atlanta Hawks into the general consciousness, and he is doing a phenomenal job.