Yesterday morning, the sports world experienced one of the worst tragedies in recent memory. Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Reports are saying they were on their way to one of Gigi’s basketball games when the helicopter caught fire and eventually crashed.
The news was so big that it actually broke Twitter for a couple minutes, as everyone went to post their shock and condolences to the Bryant and NBA family. After reading everybody’s memories on the basketball court; I just felt moved to write some words of my own.
First off, I, like arguably everyone else in this world, am still in shock about this. I can’t even begin to comprehend the pain Vanessa Bryant and their three other children are feeling right now. Say a prayer to whichever God you believe in for them tonight.
I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t a die hard Kobe fan like everyone else. I grew up a Pistons fan so I took great joy seeing Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace take down Kobe and Shaq in the 2004 NBA Finals. But, I always loved how ferocious he played the game. So ferocious in fact, that we now have a phrase for that specific amount of emotion; “Mamba Mentality”.
Everyone remembers his legendary moments: 81 points vs Jalen Rose and the Toronto Raptors, 61 vs the Knicks, the early 2000’s dynasty with Shaq, five championships total, snapping his achilles and shooting his free throws before coming out and finally, ending his career in typical Hollywood fashion by going for 60 in his final game. But sadly, as of late it seemed like all of that was forgotten. Kobe was thankfully stuck in between the Jordan and Lebron eras. The NBA needed that guy to carry the torch after Michael Jordan called it quits the second and eventually the third time and Kobe was that guy. Not only because he and Shaq were coming off three straight championships, but because he was almost an exact clone of Jordan by seemingly pulling off every move Jordan would do. Plus, he was the perfect NBA heel, you either loved or hated him.
That Mamba Mentality, his Adidas and Nike signature shoes, hell, yelling Kobe whenever you throw something in the trash. Kobe’s death is our generation’s version of John Lennon’s. You’ll forever remember where you were when you saw that tweet from TMZ thinking it was one of their signature fake death posts they do for clicks. Then the LA Sheriff confirmation of the crash, and finally, the worst Woj Bomb of all time confirmed it was Kobe and Gigi.
But all in all, thank you Kobe. Thank you for being a legend for the sport of basketball. Thank you for seeing its potential and going to China to grow the sport to even more of a global powerhouse. For being an even better father and husband off the court. Thank you for being the idol for everyone currently in the NBA, and the rest of us who love the game but never made it farther than shooting hoops in the driveway or the local park.
I’m at a loss for words so this is probably the end of my writing, but I’ll leave you with one of the greatest sports movie quotes of all time. “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” Kobe was a legend in all aspects of the word. So tell his stories to younger generations, yell “Kobe” as loud as you can when you throw trash away, just… keep his legacy alive as long as humanly possible. I just wish we got to hear his Hall of Fame speech later this summer.
P.S. Adam Silver is messed up for not postponing games yesterday.
P.S.S The NBA needs to make the All Star teams wear only 8 and 24.
Mamba and Baby Mamba Out.