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Kobe Bryant’s “White Hot” refers to a photoshop meme based on a magazine cover photo of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant posing in an all-white designer suit. Published in May 2010 by the LA Times Magazine, Bryant’s cover photo led to an outpouring of criticism from online sports communities and a slew of photoshopped images featuring Bryant’s “white hot” look.
The photo spread titled “White Hot” was published in the May 2010 issue of the L.A. Times Magazine.
Styled by James Valerie, the white clothing in the spread was supposedly meant to represent his unbelievable and unimaginable good fortune throughout his life. Bryant himself commented on the clothing during a pre-photo shoot interview with LA Times writer Tom Murray:
Tom Murray: I have to ask, when you’re in that chopper, do you ever look down on the city, pinch yourself and say--
Kobe Bryant: How the hell did this happen? Absolutely--every time. Like I’m sitting here right now. [Nods toward the two ladies primping him.] You know what I mean? This is dream s--t. Wardrobe that’s all white? This just doesn’t happen. Not for me. This is crazy.
The publication of “White Hot” spread was met by puzzled reactions from Bryant’s fans, sports blogs and hip hop forums alike, many of whom thought his all-white attire came off as a gaffe for the athlete’s public image. The buzz continued throughout the first week of May: HipHop Crunch wrote that the outfit made Bryant look like “a gay pretzel” and Yahoo Sports! called it “bizarre” and “very weird.” Sports blog The Tickr labeled the photo shoot “Amish” and Bleach Report listed the “White Hot” photo shoot in the article “Kobe Bryant’s 5 Ballsiest Career Moves.”
On May 4th, Deadspin launched a photoshop contest using an exploitable images of Bryant from the fashion spread. The compilation was posted on the following day featuring a variety pack of photoshopped images, ranging from Kobe’s face on the Quaker Oats cereal box to his face on the cover of National Geographic, imitating the famous “Afghan Girl” photo cover.