Mamba Forever


Reflecting on Kobe Bryant's untimely passing.

Mamba Forever

As a Los Angeleno, the sudden and tragic death of Kobe Bryant hit me differently. I’ve never been one to over-react to celebrity deaths, as they are not personal friends or an actual part of our lives. But Kobe was different. In which I try to explain why:

Childhood: Born in 1990, my earliest basketball memories are of watching the Kobe and Shaq dynasty. 20 years later, basketball is my favorite sport and a huge part of my life. While I don’t shout it like others, I always find myself thinking “Kobe” when tossing trash into the bin. In middle school, Kobes were the must have shoe, my first glimpse into the sneaker world, and we all got posters of Bryant promoting the Getty Museum. Kobe was my introduction to basketball, but his impact was so much greater than basketball.

Getty poster with the “must have” kicks.

Mamba Mentality: Kobe’s work ethic was unrivalled. 4am wake-ups, FULL work-outs pre and post-game, the list goes on. Several stories resonate with me. A fellow player once wanted to workout alongside Bryant, and Bryant was set to pick up this player “at 3.” When Kobe failed to show up at 3pm, the player texted Kobe to ask what went wrong. To which Kobe replied, “I came by at 3am and you weren’t outside so I left.” Wow. Similarly, Kobe had a few short-comings early in his career, including some famous clutch time airballs. He also shot a low percentage of clutch shots throughout his career. But that is overlooked because he never shied from a challenge or the spotlight. All of that is to say that he never did anything without having a purpose. He wasn’t the most physically dominant athlete, or the tallest player. But he is one of the greatest players of all time because he knew this early on and out-worked his competition to an extreme extent. From his footwork to his post game, he was a complete player.

The ultimate competitor.

Camp: I was fortunate enough to spend 4 summers working for the Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy. Kobe was always available to meet with the campers and offer his advice and wisdom. From skills and coaching demonstrations to in-depth panel discussions, each week was intimate and special. In the summer of 2010, Lebron made his decision to join the Miami Heat in the middle of camp. Coincidentally, it was also the tail-end of the World Cup (Kobe was an avid soccer fan). I lucked out and was able to watch a bit of ESPN coverage on Lebron’s decision with him and several others, as well as the complete World Cup final. He was smart with his analysis of the game, and clearly passionate. While I always say that he could’ve been a better teammate on the court (more passing, not chasing Shaq out of town, etc.), I really enjoyed him as a person. Humble and down-to-Earth, he was truly special. His IQ was off the charts in both sport and life. He was multi-lingual, something I respect as a student of another language. My moments with Kobe are stories I always tell to any sports fan, and will always be cherished memories.

Legacy: Kobe will live on as the inspiration for the current NBA stars, as a devoted father, and as the hardest worker. He was just finding his groove in his second act in his post playing career, and who knows what could have been. He enjoyed coaching his daughter’s basketball team, wrote children’s books, and was presumably set for so much more. Rest in Peace Kobe Bryant, and thank you.

#Mamba out.