As I type this, I can’t help but reminisce about the things that Kobe Bean Bryant has done both as a player and an individual, and in the process notice the incredible impact he’s made on the game of basketball.
Understandably, Kobe has molded the lives of many both on the court and off with his determination, character, and candid personality that’s set players and people with opportunity.
Once this final stretch is done, it’ll be generally understood that Kobe Bryant will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, because the impact he’s made on the game of basketball has been a noteworthy one, one that will hold a momentous impact on what future prospects look like and how they’ll go forward in their pursuit of success in the NBA.
Bryant once upon a time stood tall as that Philadelphia-born native with a curious attitude that held the biggest fervor for the game of basketball. Immediately, Bryant was regarded as simply another player that the then-Charlotte Hornets didn’t want to take a risk on, instead trading Bryant for an established player in Vlade Divac.
“They told me that they had no use for me. Rejection and anger fueled me,” or so goes the preeminent line.
Fuel him it did.
Bryant was involved in a lot of discrepancies throughout his 20-year career.
There was the court case in Denver, a scenario that nearly swept the champion away from his lifelong dream, and away from the organization that oh so cherished him.
There was the alpha clash with fellow teammate Shaquille O’Neal whom people accused Bryant of pushing away, considering the guard too much of a tyrant who didn’t see eye to eye with the Big Diesel.
Alas, the two disbursed their separate ways, and that would mark the end of an era and a grand void of what could have been.
Years flew by and Bryant played the role of a lone ranger for a long time. Push came to shove and Bryant demanded a trade in what seemingly could have been the biggest diatribe against the Lakers since the loss of Shaquille, which could have had tumultuous consequences for the legacy Bryant was mending, and the involvement the Lakers held within it.
As the story goes, the late, great Dr. Jerry Buss managed to convince the Black Mamba to re-sign with his franchise – and the rest is history.
Bryant would go on to win two more championships, thanks in part to the vehement efforts Dr. Buss would make with the inclusion of Pau Gasol, the valiant Spaniard with a kind heart and sweet finesse post-moves.
Surely, you’re questioning why this even matters for a writer like myself.
Well, 2009 was the year that would result in the emergence of my love for the game, and for a legend, unguarded.
I started watching the team back when KCAL9 aired the road games on television, and tried my best to get my family to come back home from church so that I could catch nationally televised games on ABC7 on Sunday mornings.
I fell in love with the passing, precision, the low-post footwork, the camaraderie, the double-clutch fadeaway.
Those Sunday whites.
Laker basketball started becoming something I grew fond of by the game, however, I was especially perplexed by Bryant and the extraordinary efforts he played with night in and night out — trying to make an impact on the game in any way possible, which ultimately led to it transcending to the rest of his teammates.
How about game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, when the player formerly known as Ron Artest made that go-ahead three with 1:02 to go in the fourth?
That was beauty personified.
These efforts would bring out the best of the fans, as they cheered enthrallingly in amazement at the ridiculous shots – or even assists – that man known as the Black Mamba would make.
For me? Well, as a high school student who figured he had no clue what he wanted to pursue in life, it meant the world.
Growing up, I had always been considered as more of a literary-strong student, I was a grammar freak, and my paragraphs were always well-structured. In high school, I was tasked with the decision of deciding what I wanted to do with my life, as we all are, which unequivocally resulted in my discovery of journalism.
I was considered a decent writer, I loved the Kobe-led Lakers, and I had a profound passion for telling things artistically with creative writing.
So why not?
As are all new beginnings, I’ve struggled. In college now, I’m learning the ins and outs of professional journalism, ethics that writers must abide by, and that EDGE that prominent writers like Ramona Shelburne, Mark Medina, Mike Trudell, Mike Bresnahan (to name just a few) have in their writing. I strive to be like them one day, because their writing is a reflection of what practice and persistence equates too – excellence.
Bryant is the epitome of what it means to excel at the highest level, because despite the discrepancies he faced with the Lakers, he was able to overcome them with a fervor that far exceeded the judgements and letdowns he faced.
If there’s one thing you showed me, It’s that determination and emotion through the game of basketball is capable of transcending and mending connections with the human mind.
You’re family to the city of Los Angeles, the NBA organization and its players, and the fans of the world who idolize you. You’ve achieved what the elite minority has only ever achieved — created a plethora of memories that will remain timeless in our everlasting hearts.
So on this day I say, thank you Mr. Bryant. Your indisputable dedication to the game fascinated the players, the fans and the rival organizations, but it also fascinated me.
You’ve etched your name among the stars. Now it’s time to reap what you’ve sowed.
And quite the quilt you’ve sowed…
Farewell, Mamba. It’s been real.