Kobe Bryant was the transcendent basketball player of his time. I remember watching his highlights as he was preparing to make the jump from high school to the pros and thinking; he can jump out of the gym shoot too. From day one, I was more impressed with his intellect, high SAT scores, and his ability to speak multiple languages. Of course, he wasn’t perfect, but who would be if each of our lives were on full display since 17. I watched him when he came into the league, and Michael and Scottie would beat up on him, and treat him like a little brother as Mike called him. But, you know what happens when the brother comes of age. He becomes a monster! In Kobe’s case- The MAMBA!
Kobe is the only great athlete who bridged that gap between the older generation of great players and the new generation of great players. He competed at a high level in each era. I remember watching Kobe make a move on the baseline during one regular-season game, where he tight roped the sideline while dribbling, spun, dribbled between his legs with his left hand, and went up the court to score the basket. At that moment, I said to myself, ‘that’s why I’m not in the NBA.’ There were more reasons, but I digress. However, it was one of and the best moves still that I’ve ever seen.
Kobe retired on top to the best farewell tour ever. Unlike most aging athletes, he seemed content in his decision. He left the game on his own terms. He paid homage to the old -great players and the new ones better than any other superstar. He was secure and never felt the need to justify who he was and his greatness.
I was more impressed with what he did off the court. He became a writer, which I admired. He seemed to spend his days pouring into his girls, which as a father of both girls and boys- to see him pouring into those girls was always touching!
I have always praised the exploits and milestones of Lebron touting his greatness along the way. But, on the night when he passed Kobe for the most points in NBA history, the eve before his untimely passing, I never said a word about that milestone. Because even before his passing, It just didn’t feel appropriate because I knew how special the MAMBA was not only to the game of basketball but to the game of life! Sadly, all we can do now is reflect on his greatness. As Tupac once said, “…all we have are stinking memories.” However, I will hold on to the good memories and throw this bad dream in the trash and yell one more time-like we all do-KOBE! MAMBA OUT!