There are lots of reasons why Lakers fans count on Kobe. Is it because of the buzzer beating shots? The dedication Kobe shows on the floor? Or his final free throws during the 2012-2013 season?
I could say a million of other reasons. But for me, it’s simple: Kobe Bryant always shows up. Injured, sick or healthy, Kobe has shown that he will always give his all to the city of Los Angeles.
On February the 27th last year my girlfriend and I flew from Brussels, Belgium to LA to watch Kobe and the Lakers play. My trip to LA was a birthday present from my girlfriend, family and friends: they knew how badly I wanted to go to the Staples Center.
I had been a Lakers fan for 12 years. That means 12 years of waking up at 4.30 am to watch games; 12 years of trying to imitate Kobe on the basketball court; 12 years of joy and sometimes sadness. But during those 12 years Kobe had never let me down.
The night before my flight, Dwyane Wade had broken Kobe’s nose. I left Belgium knowing Kobe had a concussion and probably wouldn’t play on February the 29th against Minnesota. 12 years of waiting, and I wouldn’t even see Kobe play.
We showed up at the Staples Center two hours before tip-off. I was quite surprised to see I wasn’t the only one traveling to LA to watch a basketball game. I met different people from Mexico, France and Spain feeling the same thing as me. This is when I truly realized that the Lakers aren’t just the team of Los Angeles; the Laker Nation has no boundaries.
This made me realize how blessed I was to stand in front of the Magic Johnson statue. Kobe or no Kobe, this would be the time of my life.
Of course, Kobe didn’t let a broken nose, concussion and sore neck stop him from putting on that golden uniform. It didn’t stop him from scoring 31 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and handing out 8 assists.
He showed up as the Man behind the Mask; doing what Kobe does, showing the millions of Lakers fans that we can always count on him.
This is why I count on Kobe. This is why I know he will come back stronger next season. For that 17th banner. For the city of Los Angeles. For the fans that travel 6000 miles just to watch him play.
This was an article by Loïc Bicamumpaka. You can follow him on Twitter here: @PurpGoldMatter
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