Yesterday was a sad day — one of the saddest and most surreal days of my life.
If you had told me that Kobe Bryant, an NBA legend whose post-basketball future was about to take flight, was going to have his life cut short in a helicopter crash early Sunday afternoon, I would have shook my head in disbelief. And I am STILL shaking my head in disbelief. It’s almost as if I am the middle of a bad dream that I cannot wake up from.
In full disclosure, people who know me best know the following: 1) I hate grits with a passion; 2) I love the New York Knicks and 3) I fucking hate the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only do I hate the Lakers, I was not a big fan of Kobe Bryant during his glory years as a Laker (besides, I was Team Shaq).
But man, was I a fan of his game! No matter who the player was and the team I rooted against (Tom Brady, Ray Lewis, Larry Bird, Joe Montana), I’ve always appreciated greatness. And I REALLY appreciated the Mamba’s greatness.
- 5× NBA champion
- 2× NBA Finals MVP
- NBA Most Valuable Player
- 18× NBA All-Star
- 11× All-NBA First Team
- 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team
- 33,643 career points (25.0 ppg)
As much as I admired Kobe’s greatness on the court, I marveled almost as much as what he was heading post-basketball.
His Mamba Academy that was established to help younger players. His philanthropy and crusades for women’s sports. And who could forget his animated short film, Dear Basketball, for which he won an Academy Award?
The most depressing part about it all was we were robbed of seeing how great Kobe was potentially going to be in this “second act”, if you will.
The NBA family mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant. The entire sports world is still in mourning.
The one thing those athletes and we sports fans can do to help Kobe’s legacy is to keep pushing. That’s the way he would have wanted. That’s “Mamba Mentality”.