Nikil Saval

All articles by this author

On Kobe Bryant

On Kobe Bryant

Late Kobe, like late Hemingway, was a throwback to himself.

Not a single player who is statistically “better” than Kobe has been as glorious to watch. He was a sociopath, and his deep-seated contempt drove him to become one of the most beautiful athletes. The comparison with Duncan, an incomparably nicer man and better teammate, is instructive. Though Duncan may end up being accounted the greater player, I am with those who find his post-up, bank-shot style a chore to watch. Very few, even the haters, have felt this way about Kobe in his prime.

In Baltimore

In Baltimore

Occasionally news crews would insinuate themselves into the crowds and pretend to understand what was happening. “I’m hearing lots of cries for freedom and justice here, not rioting” one newscaster said, authoritatively, while someone next to him continually interrupted: “This is about racism, not rioting. Say the word. This is about state-sponsored murder! Say it!”

The Long Eighties

The Long Eighties

Spend time among the Chinese intelligentsia today and you’ll hear many frank expressions of nostalgia for the 1980s. “Our Eighties are like your Sixties,” someone inevitably will say—in other words, the moment when the possibility of tremendous political transformation flared up only to be extinguished, sending shocks of longing through the dark years that followed.