The Referee’s Handbook

“Reading is fundamental. I made a point of reading the referee’s handbook. One of the rules I gleaned from it, was that each referee has a designated slot where he’s supposed to be on the floor. If the ball for instance is in place “W” referees “X”, “Y” and “Z” each have an area on the court assigned to him. When they do that it creates dead zones. Areas on the floor where they can’t see certain things. I learned where these zones were and I took advantage of them. I would get away with holds, travels, and all sorts of minor violations simply because I took the time to understand the official’s limitations.”

The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant almost played “The Beautiful Game.” Instead he played “hoops.” Choosing between soccer and basketball was supposedly a close call and a difficult decision. But did Kobe really have a choice? The proximity of his natal Jupiter sextile the North Node, the closest aspect in his chart, suggests he did not. Such an oddity that a seemingly minor aspect can have so powerful an effect on personality development. But it is often the case that much promise and potential in a chart is contained in a single point, like the inner doll in a nest of dolls, or a stone dropped in a well. We see patterns. They repeat. We hear echoes. Kobe would be famous. He almost didn’t have a choice about it. The collection of planets congregating near the top of Kobe’s chart, the Southern Hemisphere Emphasis [Tyl], gives a similar first impression. He had a rendezvous with the future, of promise and potential; success. His planets form like drops of fate, condensation on a sunroof. Giving fair warning that “when it rains it pours.” Life happens. Choice and will power become enmeshed within the entanglements of circumstance. The midpoint picture Pluto=Node/MC adds dramatically to this “point,” describing the rain in a little more detail. Kobe needed to win and would be viewed as a winner. His promise and potential would be identified early and then build upon itself perpetually. The astrologer in me attempts to read these structures and interpret how the light of the Sun diffracts across the angles and planets, a type of mental holography. In a sense the horoscope is a photographic light field captured in symbol and represents individual potential within life development. With certain indications from the chart cued up to guide discussion, the consultation can begin. Let ‘s have a look at Kobe Bryant’s chart.

The Sun-Moonblend is the beginning of synthesis. It is the starting point for identifying the essence of a chart; the astrological core of your horoscope. I sometimes think about the horoscope in the way “Melancholy Jacque” introduces the first line of his famous speech from As You Like It, one of Shakespeare’s plays. He delivers his dour declamation in “All the World’s a Stage,” and that iconic line that everyone knows simultaneously sets up the rest of the speech, but a shockingly cynical view of the life cycle from birth to oblivion. Less well known but by the end of it, “Sans everything!” Before cynicism creeps in however, the opening lines of the poem give voice to the idea that we must participate in the world. By making an appearance; our “exits” and our “entrances,” we “show up.” And if we never show? Well then, there is no play. Only by showing up do we create the promise of delivering a standout performance, certain actors do show up from time to time and deliver the most remarkable and memorable lines, words that stick in our heads easier than others. For example, “All the World’s a Stage.” And “Star” performances can overshadow the supporting cast. But there can be no mistake that the overall experience of the play when done well, is an integration of ALL the parts. Even the two-bit parts add vital nuance to the script. Otherwise those lines would never have found their way into the play in the first place. All the lines together convey the meaning of the play in a way that one line alone cannot. And yet paradoxically the meaning of the overall play is dependent upon the reflection of each individual part. So strange! And there is a profound sense of wonder that the entire play can resound within a soliloquy, that a single part contains all the other parts within her, if only for a moment, and that she is the script even though she is simultaneously not the script. This is synthesis. Interactions between characters and circumstance. Relationship and plot. And it is no different in the horoscope, between planets, signs and aspects. And most importantly the life being lived. There are patterns within any chart that repeat; patterns that elaborate a life story that needs to be told. In astrology, the Sun-Moon blend sets the stage.

Kobe’s Sun is in Virgo and his Moon is in Taurus, a core blend that is in a harmonious relationship. Any planets in the same element, but in different signs, are 5 signs away from one another and are said to be in a Trine relationship, that is 120 degrees apart. Things work well together and sometimes too well; I think especially in air signs where for example, Gemini and Libra can be easily upset if things go awry. The person with an Air Trine will need some grist elsewhere in the chart in order to fight through distraction and reestablish harmony. In Earth signs, like in Kobe’s chart, the energies are practical and stable. There is a foundational promise of material abundance suggested in this Earthly combination. Good planning meets with fortunate outcomes. Routine, rehearsal, practice and hard work are embraced not avoided; work itself carries an emotional and moral sense of duty or propriety that can be idealized. But the valence of things can become dogmatic and righteous. A “blind spot.”

In an LA Times article Mike Bresnahan writes about never getting Phil Jackson to talk about Kobe Bryant versus Michael Jordan. But Jackson spills the ‘jellybeans’ in his book “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success” where he describes a reticent and reserved Kobe [Capricorn Ascendant, and the Ascendant ruler, Saturn conjunct the Sun.] lacking somewhat in the social graces and charisma of his boyhood hero, Michael Jordan. Jackson’s summary of Kobe’s profile cuts right to the “core” of this “blind spot” and brilliantly describes the tensions in his horoscope in a way that only a “Zen Master” could. Jackson was critically factual but admirable of Kobe’s perseverance: Bryant “tends to force the action, especially when the game isn’t going his way. When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns.” 1 In Kobe’s own words, “I would go 0 for 30 before I would go 0 for 9; 0 for 9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game.” 2

Cliché astrology scripts automatically run in our heads. We see the Moon in Taurus for example and think “ah ha! This person is stubborn.” And likewise, observing the energy of the Sun in Virgo we think fastidious first; A perfectionist. Fair enough, but this type of reductionism misses the mark of synthesis. We want to be alert for “meta” points like in this case, Jupiter sextile the North Node, or the midpoint picture involving the midheaven described above to add depth and perspective to the portrait taking shape. And like in Kobe’s case even closer aspects emerge, Uranus quintile the Sun for example. Magnificent creativity! Not a Ptolemaic aspect but closer than the “closest” aspect. Most of the time confining our search to Ptolemaic aspects narrows the search and increases the probability that when one of these points emerge, it will correspond to the essence of the chart more significantly. Nevertheless, we need to be alert for anomalous aspects without measuring every nook and cranny. The Quintile in Kobe’s chart stands out to me because Uranus is involved within the astrological core, both the Sun and Moon; Individualizing his creative output and expressions. The life of Kobe Bryant amply celebrates his combined Sun-Moon qualities and supports the idea that there is more analytical strength in synthesis than in the singularity of measuring either the Sun or Moon alone. Adding less obvious points that accent and connect to the core can be essential to better understanding the life being lived. Synthesis adds depth and perspective that is meaningful. The message doesn’t get lost in a clutch of clutter and hackneyed parts. We pull our observations together. Take the example of Kobe’s routine for “perfect practice” combined with his “endurance” as a player. Add to this his careful, smart, and analytical approach to the game and his indomitable spirit to set the score straight, all habits of thought and action; personality traits that eloquently describe the Sun-Moon blend in action, working in unison.  

And to expound a bit further these sentences from Kobe’s Wikipedia page summarize the Sun-Moon blend and more. “Bryant was also lauded for his work ethic. 3 Throughout his first 16 seasons, his body was resilient, 4 and he exhibited a high pain threshold while often playing through injuries. 5 A fierce competitor, Bryant made opponents and teammates alike the objects of his scorn. 6 Many players have considered him difficult to play with because of his high level of commitment and performance. 7 According to sportswriter Mark Heisler of Forbes, “circa 2004–2007, Kobe was the most alienated superstar the NBA had ever seen.” ”

After the Sun-Moon blend there is an orientation to life suggested by a pattern that emphasizes one of four hemispheres; East, West, North, or South. I drew a black arc to demarcate the upper half of Kobe’s chart, the Southern Hemisphere. Uranus is key in the 10th opposed the Moon; the Moon part of the “astrological core” and ruling his 7th house of relationships. How Kobe “interacts” with the “players” in his life will be vital. And immediately we see the potential for disruption, a strong independent drive to individuate, his need to contend with security by upsetting the status quo. Kobe’s impulse to put things the way they are supposed to be, while simultaneously feeling compelled to “change things up,” will call for him to innovate and not be lulled into complacency. The profile is building, suggesting an all-out instinct for publicity and a drive for popularity. The Bull in Taurus is awakened. And Kobe will be attracted to a partner who can fill his emotional needs; who he values as somehow different. Vanessa, Kobe’s wife, most likely provided him a way to get in touch with his more sensitive side. Getting in touch with his feelings would be an important life lesson and she was perhaps his teacher in this respect. But back to the hemisphere emphasis, as mentioned at the outset, Kobe probably felt that his life just ‘happened’ or unfolded “as he liked.” That certain things were ‘fated’ or meant to be. “Yeah, I guess,” Bryant said. “You’ve got to step up and play, man. You can’t worry about criticism. You can’t worry about failure. You really can’t worry about that stuff. You’ve got to go out and figure that out and play and do the best you can, and whatever happens, happens. You can’t be held captive by the fear of failure, or the fear of what people may say.8

The Ascendant is ruled by Saturn and conjunct the Sun in Virgo. Saturn conjunct the Sun suggests he is comfortable going it alone, being the lone wolf. An echo of Mark Heisler’s observation of Kobe’s alienation and perhaps of the power of Uranus in his chart to separate. Kobe was probably seriously independent, and his ambitions must have been driven by very personal concerns. Capricorn on the Ascendant echoes these sentiments. The sign of the goat projects an “old soul” or someone who appears older than they are but then somehow looks younger with age. A cool and detached persona that appears contemplative and projects an inward presence belying concerns for troubles that are kept private. Again, echoes of Phil Jackson’s observations that Kobe was “reticent and reserved, lacking in social graces.” But the personality within this structure is waiting for the right time to stand out. And so, we anticipate he will standout, if other aspects support this. Life churns forward, taking shape by his experiences (Southern Hemisphere Emphasis). “He will feel pushed around, controlled and even victimized by experiences in the world,” [Tyl] and so we can anticipate that Kobe will approach life as a provocateur, “leading with his chin.” Challenging all comers, daring them. And taking risks.

At this point in a consultation I’ll pause and ask “why?” And then I’ll listen. But asking “why” in a therapeutic context is a cardinal sin. A “no-no.” Why? Because this question is thought to create open loops that force the mind to rehash and regurgitate the same old stuff. Retracing steps in our minds and replaying mental scenarios that endlessly repeat but in an unhelpful manner that never resolve. Still, there is something powerfully healing when a personal story is shared and retold objectively. Often the discussion helpfully frees clients in a way that is part and parcel with the process of disclosure. These consultative moments miraculously reveal how astrology works in real life. (#AstrologyIRL) Narrative builds. Early home life experiences illuminated by astrology, put the role of the parents in fashioning childhood into context. We quickly see that “real astrology” does not live on the screen, or in a monthly “forecast” or in a book for that matter. We learn that astrology exists in the lived experience. Clever “epithetical bromides” [Tyl] seem to sell astrology short.

In Kobe’s chart we identify the parents by the parental axis; the Midheaven and I.C… The rulers, Pluto and Venus in Libra are in the 9th house. Scorpio on the M.C. can suggest “secret research” and we know that Kobe “studied” his craft by any means possible. Studying the referee’s handbook for example. And he didn’t stop there. He also had a penchant for learning from the great players that came before him like Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Bill Russell to name a few. The opposing sign, Taurus on the 4th house cusp, suggests that Kobe would value peace and tranquility at home. A strong and stable home-life would be important to him. The focus of Venus and Pluto in Libra strives to realize an ideal and simultaneously bring balance to life. Unfortunately, balance in pursuit of an ideal, fueled by Mars-Pluto and Venus are antithetical constructs. The emotional component is piqued to an extreme degree here, empowering the need to relate to others but coming across as disgruntled and full of disdain. Passive aggressive judgment can overrule the dignified poise we might expect, perhaps a reaction for not upholding your end of the bargain from his point of view. Kobe would not suffer fools gladly. Obsessed by a driving need for publicity, an extreme desire for being popular and appreciated by others, likely related to his enormous need to feel loved (Pluto ruling the 11th house), this need compelled his behavior. Any irascibility then might be viewed as a defense against not feeling that, not feeling loved.

Kobe’s romantic aspirations were excited early. He asked an R&B star, Brandy Norwood, to his high school prom and she said yes. He also landed a guest appearance in Brandy’s hit sitcom at the time. Notably Bryant’s Neptune is semi-square the M.C. connecting him to the arts. But Kobe’s relationships wouldn’t be without upset and change. Venus is exalted. The notion being that the “idea” of the thing is more important than thing itself. When reality doesn’t measure up to the dream, overachievers keep chasing the dream like a dog after its own tail. Anxiety in high achievers works to motivate massive action. Promise and potential realized compels behavior to realize more. But living up to the image of a “hero” is difficult to sustain. Any internal emotional conflict, gnawing away inside, can threaten this image with aberrant behavior or worse a nervous breakdown. After these emotions burp out uncontrollably in defense of the image being built, a more sensitive, vulnerable and concerned person sometimes emerges. Kobe would have had to contend with some variation on this theme. What happened in Colorado is a case in point. Charles Barkley alluded to Kobe’s rape case in a discussion panel on the Today Show. “You have to tell the picture in totality,’ Barkley said. “We’re not making Kobe out to be no hero. We’re celebrating his basketball excellence. We understand what happened in Colorado. That’s fair, but two things can be true.” He later added: “Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players ever. And he had a flaw that we all know about.” 9

Indeed, Kobe needed to guard against showing his disdain and disapproval for others. Mistreating others a reflection of deep-seated insecurities. Very much a human flaw as Barkley said, but perhaps one that Kobe wished he could explain by what he learned. How the experience changed him. Kobe needed to feel comfortable in his own skin and accept the generous support from his fans and others. He probably felt an aversion for improprieties but at the same time, being human, was drawn to a dark side, to the allure and temptation of “shadow work.” The conjunction of Venus, Pluto and Mars, in Libra gets complicated. Extreme sexual attraction, passion, and dominance fight for control but these powers can be expressed with aplomb. Aesthetics paper over deep disturbances, there is a willingness to fight to reestablish harmony and to reflect shared social values, but an air of superiority can reign that is unattractive. Libra energies can be fanciful, heady and idealistic. Emotional and yet not. Therefore, mixed signals get sent and especially with Neptune ruling the 3rd, the message can get lost. We can anticipate Kobe misrepresented his intent at times, and that he was unafraid to express his points aggressively in a show of arrogance, or to use criticism in order to control the conversation and force his agenda. Aries is intercept in the 3rd house of siblings, communication and mindset, and ruled by Mars which is part of the conjunction in the 9th. The “blind spot” suggested here is a tendency to be caustic, rude and inconsiderate. Perhaps the parents recognized Kobe’s potential and believed he was “special.” Their support might have bordered on tyrannical development, encouraging competitiveness and daring. Perhaps they over played their hand and it cost them in a period of estrangement from their son when he chose to marry someone different and wrest back some control in his life. And then again when they sold memorabilia behind his back and without permission. Why? There were likely more troubled waters under the bridge than we know of, but it all seems to be there: Inside the “Referee’s Handbook” of Astrology.

Mercury peregrine in Leo rules the 9th and 6th houses. Kobe was proud of what he knew about basketball and how to play the game. He was bilingual and spoke fluent Italian. He was an obsessive student of the game studying every conceivable angle to win. The way he thought about the game gave him an advantage. Kobe earned respect and praise for his insight and mastery of the game’s details. He needed to think in Leo terms, for being rewarded and honored, for being smart. He longed to be thought of as a leader and for always thinking about how to win.

Mercury in the 8th also suggests a mind that needs to think about the mysterious; he was keen to recognize things that most other people don’t see. Understanding how others think, like referees, or spouses for example. A skill that would make Kobe a formidable negotiator. He would think about and know about what other’s cared about. Knowing what others paid attention to and how he might position himself for winning praise. Kobe seemed to approach decision making cavalierly, but there was likely more beneath the surface. He was astute of his own capabilities in relation to others. He knew what resources he could appropriate from others, probably better than they knew about these things themselves. But he would need to become less of a Bull in time, to effectively tap into his natural, strategic and self-serving meta empathy. He would in time either use this information to better protect his self-image, take advantage of situations and people, or better serve them; Or any combination of these three. It appears he applied all three strategies at various times throughout his development. Perhaps in response to something he had to learn the hard way growing up, to be selfish, independent, and to hoard the ball. Attitudes he would need to evolve.

“He did, however, lead the Lakers to two championships after the departure of Shaquille O’Neal; during this period, he became more of a mentor to his teammates than he had been earlier in his career. 10, 11 Bryant’s longtime head coach Phil Jackson noted that the biggest difference between his first and second stints in coaching the Lakers was if Bryant talked to teammates in his earlier years with the Lakers, it was usually, “Give me the damn ball.” During the latter period, “He embraced the team and his teammates, calling them up when we were on the road and inviting them out to dinner. It was as if the other players were now his partners, not his personal spear-carriers.” 12

In his book, The Mamba Mentality, Kobe discusses “dead zones” on the court. These were hidden areas that he discovered only after reading the referee’s handbook. He had a brilliant flash of intuition that he could exploit this information to his own advantage, sneaky like the attack of his adopted spirit animal the Black Mamba snake. “Bryant assigned himself the nickname of “Black Mamba”, citing a desire for his basketball skills to mimic the eponymous snake’s ability to ‘strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession.’ ” 13 So it is no small irony that “…throughout his career, Bryant was disparaged for being a selfish, high-volume shooter; he missed more field goal attempts in his career than any other player in NBA history.” 14

We see these potentials within the synthesis of sign and symbol extending from Pluto’s rulership of the Midheaven and Mercury’s placement in the 8th. He was a researcher and steeped in deep study. Kobe is describing what behavioral economists call “blind spots,” or what Arien Mack and Irvin Rock called “Inattentional Blindness,” phenomena they discovered in their work from 1992. He used the cognitive bias of referees to his own advantage, in a way like no one before him. He was innovative. In elite competition, even micro advantages matter. Kobe knew that if the referees chose to take a position on the floor in order to “see better” it would simultaneously make them “blind” to other “areas on the floor where they can’t see certain things.” 15 Life, like basketball, comes with a referee’s handbook. A dear friend of mine called astrology “life’s user manual” after he was bedazzled when I skimmed his chart for him. I am convinced that studying our charts helps us uncover our own “blind spots.” Few players bother with the “referee’s handbook,” just as few people bother with “life’s user manual.” But living your life is not the same thing as assembling a piece of furniture from Akia. Maybe there is a distinct advantage to be gained if we could only SEE better. Learning about our “blind spots” and accentuating our strengths certainly couldn’t hurt. Kobe viewed the “referee’s handbook” as important. It was self-evident to him that the document had a purpose, that it was a valuable “tool” for learning “how to play” the game.

Our parents and their parents before them didn’t know there is a “life’s user manual.” But things are different today. We know so much more. There are guidebooks for everything: marriage, vocation analysis, how to raise healthy children, how to manage your finances, etc… and now there are even guides for how to take care of elderly parents. Kobe probably didn’t know about Astrology, “life’s user manual,” but like the referee’s guidebook, he might have found it useful. No doubt he would have studied it cover to cover. And in the process, he might have learned to uncover a few “blind spots” in order to live his life better. He would have learned to see more of what he couldn’t see.

In addition to Mercury, Jupiter is also peregrine in Cancer from the 7th house. Kobe’s pull to the public was huge. Jupiter peregrine can expand the hope for reward and exaggerate the emotional in a big way. Kobe’s presence carried a certain confidence and gravitas that drew crowds. An appetite for creature comfort and a sense of feeling self-secure was no doubt exceeded only by his ambition. Kobe was fortunate in partnerships and marriage. He provided massive security for his family. Amplifying, or perhaps overstating the necessity of things and always wanting more. Always believing that there IS more. More to do. More to have. More to be. And the set-up building here begs the question as to whether Kobe ever believed that he in fact had enough: enough money, enough things, enough friends, enough love. Being appreciated for who he was would open his heart and his generosity toward others, but it is a strong possibility that he didn’t start there. He didn’t begin with gratitude. He would need to learn gratitude, perhaps an important component of what he was to learn in his marriage and from raising a family. He would possibly learn more about himself through these important personal relationships than from all other relationships in his life combined. If Vanessa was Kobe’s emotional “teacher” in this respect, she would need to show him and demonstrate for him his own capacity for expressing love, from her point of view, which meant showing you care by “showing up.” Showing you care by your actions. And after retirement, with his infidelity hopefully behind him, this may have become his focus. Being a better spouse, a better father, a better friend and a better person: “Showing up!”

Artist Yann Dalon from Paris, France

The Nodal Axis is such a rich and mysterious “know” to study. More Western Astrologers are embracing the importance of this axis. The Nodes define relationship. Their existence in fact depends on their relationship with ‘other’ bodies; where the Moon and Earth cross paths with the ecliptic, the path of the Sun. The Nodes are in some sense where our paths cross. But the Nodes are only “seen” during the alignment of the Earth, Sun and Moon during an eclipse. Since so much astrology is derived mathematically in order to fit on the page, few astrologers actually “see” astrology. I am not an expert on the Nodes but there is probably more to this axis than meets the eye. I’ve come across students of Steven Forrest who has much to say about the Nodal Axis. His work is worth investigating. Bruno Huber wrote Moon Node Astrology, another western treatment worth reading. Still, Nodal Astrology is not nearly as advanced in the West as in India, where Vedic astrologers have worked with the symbolism for centuries. I am drawn to the Nodal Axis in Kobe’s chart for several reasons and first might be because as a symbol of the relationship with the mother, she probably held sway from behind the scenes in my view, irrespective of how dominant the relationship was with the father. But also, there is this idea that the Nodes represent “serpent forces,” the head and tail of a fire breathing dragon. The Greeks used the symbol of the snake eating its own tail, the uroboros, to represent spirit and matter, what we know versus what we don’t know and our journey in life marked by an insatiable need to discover, to enter the belly of the Great Whale (another form of the serpent). Thay Kobe chose the Black Mamba as his “spirit animal,” and that his Nodal Axis appears so relevant in his horoscope is a remarkable synchronicity. And perhaps no accident.

Bob Dylan, the infamous singer songwriter happens to share Kobe’s nodal placement along the same degrees in Pisces and Virgo. Interestingly, Dylan’s North Node is Trine his natal Jupiter and Uranus. Dylan is a poetic genius. He excels in matters regarding communication and publishing. Kobe’s North Node also aspects Jupiter and Uranus. However, Kobe’s Neptune is out of range except for the semisquare aspect to the midheaven and the sextile to his formidable Libra energies, unlike Dylan’s Neptune, which is conjunct the North Node. Both charts have Neptune ruling the 3rd house of communication. Dylan’s Venus is peregrine. Kobe’s Venus as mentioned, sextile Neptune. They are ‘artists.’ Kobe’s creativity went well beyond basketball. His artistic gifts were acknowledged later in life with an academy award for a children’s animation short film (Neptune ruling the 3rd, semisquare the M.C. and Venus ruling the 5th, as well as Libra intercepted in the 9th, publishing).

By some accounts, the placement of the South Node in the 2nd house promised Kobe a long life. But he would also be vulnerable to risk taking, unlucky in gambling and even gambling with his own life. The South Node in the 2nd can reflect a person with a sardonic way of speaking that can be cutting, perhaps attitudes and moods tied to friction and confusion within the early home life. A more difficult family situation than is generally known. There is a vulnerability here that Kobe is probably defending against, his struggle was to not hand over the reins of control to others, he resisted being managed or governed and he fought to maintain his independence, slipping the grasp of the invisible hands grabbing and stabbing at him. The threat of enmeshment with siblings growing up, and potentially carried over into adult relationships, perhaps tied to the influence of the mother figure, affections wee stirred. With Jupiter so strong in the 7th, the likelihood of a saving grace being visited upon Kobe and Vanessa was high. Family tension is not unique to any one chart, but the South Node in the 2nd house suggests familial entanglements that appear pronounced. The relevance and probability increases when other measurements confirm it, when there is an echo.

In terms of the hierarchy or priority of measurement, the parental axis (the vertical line connecting the top of the chart to the bottom) is in some ways much more important to the conversation than conjectural considerations of the Nodes which aren’t necessarily experienced in the here and now. The parental axis rulers in Kobe’s chart are clearly and dramatically in the picture. Pluto ruling the M.C. (often signifying the father) is conjunct Venus, ruling the I.C. (a significator of the mother). They are close. They are in cahoots. And Mars is nearby as well, ruling Aries intercepted in the third. We anticipate that the parents and siblings will figure dramatically in the narrative as it unfolds. Interestingly, both of Kobe’s parents had roots in the NBA. Kobe’s dad, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, retired from the NBA and the family moved to Italy. “Jellybean” was able to continue playing pro ball in Europe. Kobe’s uncle, Chubby Cox also played in the NBA. He was Pam’s (Kobe’s mother) brother. The pressure was on for Kobe to choose basketball over soccer, and as I suggested, he probably didn’t have much of a choice when we tie in the family roots, Venus, ruling the 4th and 5th cusp; with the direction of Kobe’s life work, represented by Pluto ruling the 10th cusp and following in his father’s footsteps. But the Nodes do figure into this picture, even if it is not so obvious. Jupiter, ruling the 12th house, so closely relating with the North Node, describes the “maternal relationship” in Tyl’s parlance and tells us that “mom” was an enormous influence. A hidden force, from behind the scenes guiding and steering relationships.

“Jellybean” and Pam also had two girls, Shana and Shaya. Kobe being the youngest of three children. There are numerous reports describing tension between the siblings and with the parents. Although the relations may have been strained at times Kobe appears to have made peace in accordance with the Mars principle in Libra. We discussed the parents selling Kobe’s memorabilia, and before that their disapproval of his marriage to Vanessa because she wasn’t black. His estrangement after that from his parents continued until Kobe’s first child was born and again amends were made. Astrologically the measurements look powerful. Libra energies can be obsequious to an extreme degree and manipulative in a passive aggressive way. Pluto and Mars heighten these potentials exploring the heights and depths of socially acceptable behavior. And Venus in Libra holds a romantic view of life, the expectation is that people need to relate with each other using remarkable decorum, which in real life is easier said than done. And as so often with child prodigies, parents sometimes try and live vicariously through their children. In his excellent book, Rethinking Narcissism by Dr. Craig Malkin, the author discusses research that ironically suggests children respond to authoritarian parenting styles like “tiger parenting” by underachieving. 16 Kobe’s mother may not have been a “tiger mom” but Kobe definitely experienced the over involvement of “helicopter parents” who together were extremely focused on supporting Kobe’s over achievement. Malkin makes the case for how emotional and social queues can be upset where “tiger mom’s” reign; moods become difficult to modulate due to anxiety issues and deep personal dissatisfaction of not being good enough. Falling short of a romanticized notion of self. Perhaps some combination of “helicoptering” and being overly permissive, pandering to Kobe’s every whim and need caused upset in the household and fortified Kobe’s vaunted self-worth (see midpoint picture Sun=Uranus/Neptune) into being the hyper confident player he was, but at the same time some social queues appeared to be off.

Experiencing their brother’s overconfidence would have been tiring for the sisters who may have felt left out or left behind somehow. They would have felt the need to respond, but passive aggressively of course. One way to unconsciously vie for attention from their superstar brother would be to show him how much they ‘needed’ (Neptune’s rulership of the 3rd) him. And of course, this would have been exhausting for Kobe. While Neptune is in reasonably good shape in Kobe’s chart, the ruler of Aries (Mars), the intercepted sign in the 3rd (siblings), is stressed. Beneath the façade of politeness and cooperation a sibling rivalry may have lurked. An unfair competition. Kobe would have reacted to this tension by “fighting for peace” among the family. And, he would simultaneously stir the pot (South Node in the 2nd), followed by becoming the “peacemaker.” Relationships would prove difficult. Probably in no small part due to his being on the spectrum of narcissism, enabled by his well-meaning parents. Feeling the need to demean others if it meant feeling in control and feeling his power. A condition, unfortunately, that seems so common among high achievers with money and power. A human condition that is too common. And Kobe was human.  What took shape early in development, and not to “blame” “Jellybean” and Pam’s parenting style, provoked Kobe to transform his personal stress into one of the all-time greatest careers in basketball history. Kobe WAS special. And he knew it. His “need” for greatness and to eventually put on a show as one of the greatest players of his generation was nourished and fed by sweet intentions. “Jellybean” and Pam, like most parents, we might say did the best they could for their son. Kobe, like any child, experienced the relationship with his parents, warts and all, from his own perspective and not theirs. It is of note that truly remarkable people seem to come out of either extraordinarily difficult beginnings and brutal parental situations or some version of privilege and permissiveness, an enforced idealism that can be brutal in its own way.

Kobe had a privileged upbringing. He was likely an overindulged and spoiled child. And the way he was raised molded an ultra-confident boy who was ahead of his time, Uranus ruling the 2nd opposed the Moon; Quintile the Sun and semisquare the North Node. But his swagger, genuine as it was, may have come only after considerable expense. He most certainly felt pressure to perform. To prove himself. Perhaps to an excessively demanding father, Uranus in the 10th, Sun conjunct Saturn, Saturn ruling the Ascendant and the Sun part of the midpoint picture Sun=Uranus/Neptune, a picture which seems to tie all the above together with such promise. And it bears repeating that the Mother looms large here, since both Jupiter and Uranus aspect the North Node, as well as the Moon, which is sesquiquadrate the North Node. If she didn’t rule with an iron fist, then her hand was the one invisibly clinging to her son. So, the patterns that point to Kobe’s parents playing a significant role is repeated by more than just the 10th and 4th house cusp rulers. There is a supporting cast. The family situation was obviously complex, incredibly influential and motivating, and a source of discrepancy created a fierce drive and determination inside that he applied to resolve that discrepancy.

Year later, after Colorado, his wife Vanessa would gift Kobe with a second chance. When Kobe had children, he must have discovered an unconditional love that no fan could match, and not even millions of fans together could compare to the love he seemed to share with his daughters. We have no way of knowing the depth of this love for sure except to interpret photos, video clips and stories. Their relationship certainly appeared genuine by all accounts the feelings were mutual. No other type of love or popularity would displace the affection he felt for his children and especially in retirement when he had more time to spend with his children. Kobe reveled in fatherhood. Gianna’s sisters will surely miss those moments. And even critics reminiscing about an imperfect human being, despite his extraordinary accomplishments, will miss at least this, those tender Instagram moments with his girls that he shared with the world.     

Libra is also the sign of compromise. A good path for Kobe to eventually ease into. He seemed to have learned to take a more inclusive approach, negotiate collaborative solutions, and value partnerships as well as cooperation. He was becoming more cooperative and community focused. Kobe is said to have been very difficult to work with when he was younger, but Phil Jackson suggested that he learned to work better with others and became adept at building consensus. He no longer expected his teammates “to carry his spear.” He was smart and realized he needed to adjust in order to get what he wanted. Self-assured in his skills and later in his personal achievements, Kobe was becoming a force in his philanthropic endeavors. Mercury peregrine ruling the 6th and 9th, and an empowered Venus ruling the 5th, suggests more work was ahead for him and especially working with children that would go global. Teaching others about success: The Mamba Mentality. And transferring to kids his belief that everyone gets just what they want out of life; “As you like it.” It’s too bad he decided to take this last shot and not pass the ball. Too bad that what he couldn’t see through the fog that grounded everyone else. His biggest “blind spot” as it turns out would not “beat the buzzer” this time. But even to the casual observer Kobe seemed to have arrived on a higher plane, his aims appeared to be more in balance between work and family. His countenance projected a certain integration around a spiritual center. It wouldn’t be surprising if after speaking with Kobe, that he communicated an understanding of a responsibility to convey this meaning of life, that the Astral Core is more than the sum of its parts. And that this was his mission in life: To build hope. Faith. And confidence in others.

  1. Bresnahan, Mike. “Phil Jackson Throws the Book at Kobe”. LA Times. May 16, 2013
  2. Hoffman, Benjamin. “In Most Areas, Good or Bad, Kobe Bryant Has Simply Done More”. The New York Times. December 4, 2015
  3. Shelburne, Romona. “Kobe and L.A. tradition will be tested”. ESPN April 13, 2013
  4. Adlande, J.A. “Kobe Bryany pays price for greatness”. ESPN January 26, 2015
  5. Ballard, Chris. “Examining Kobe Bryant’s legendary pain tolerance and road to recovery”. Sports Illustrated January 27, 2015
  6. Phillips, Brian. “Wolf on the Rock: The Ludicrouse, Glorious Doom of Kobe Bryant”. Grantland February 12, 2016
  7. Ryan, Chris; Concepcion, Jason. “Six Seconds to Perfection: The Best NBA Vines of the Season”. Grantland February 12, 2016
  8. Holmes, Baxter. “Misses Add Up to a Big Part of Kobe’s Legacy” ESPN May 12, 2014
  9. Ding, Kevin. “Julius Randle’s Development Poses Final Leadership Test for Kobe Bryant”. October 24, 2014.
  10. Heisler, Mark. “Who Killed Lakers? ESPN Says It Was Someone on Inside With the Initials Kobe Bryant”. October 24, 2014.
  11. Bresnahan, Mike. “Phil Jackson’s new book focuses a lot on (who else?) Kobe Bryant”. Los Angeles Times. May 16, 2013
  12. Crowe, Jerry “Text messages from press row …” Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  13. In 2014, Bryant passed Havlicek’s previous mark of 13,417 missed shots, and he retired with 14,481. []
  14. Bryant, Kobe. The Mamba Mentality: How I Play October 23, 2018
  15. Dr. Malkin, Craig. Rethinking Narcissism: The Secret to Recognizing and Coping with Narcissists Harper Collins 2015

4 responses to “The Referee’s Handbook”

  1. It’s been a while! I was worried you ditched the blog. Awesome write-up! Thank you.

    1. Thank Brian… glad you got my rebound…

  2. This is great , I’m sure you worked hard for this … thanks ❤

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