38 years young. Crazy to think this man played his professional career for most of my life, and no one can possibly understand the impact he left in my life and basketball.
Obviously, I would be lying if I told you I remembered the Draft night like the back of my hand; the hoopla around the Lakers that offseason with Shaq become the head of the franchise, Lakers were coming off of another season of disappointment, blah blah blah. (I was 2, wondering who was going to change my diaper). The most I can remember is my dad screaming damn near every night “Who the hell is this kid?!” Course, with my childish instincts and curiosity fueling my immature brain, I wanted to know what was causing the uproar. Watching that first game of Kobe, was only the beginning of a long time love for the game and Kobe.
For some reason, I find myself reminiscing some moments of my life and compare them to Kobe during his career. When Kobe was winning championships and striving to be compared to Michael Jordan, my equal was winning in every state I would travel to and be apart of the best team in Southern California (AAU). Not to mention hearing my dad tell me I was already better than him at basketball at age 12, was like hearing I made it to the Hall of Fame for the Warren Family (really BIG achievement, right? Let me have my childhood victory). Even when Kobe beat Boston in the finals, I imagined that was as good as me getting a 3.0 my senior year of high school (thank god being a TA).
Everyone has that uncle that sounds smart for approximately 2.5 seconds by saying “With the good, follows with the bad.” We can go back to Kobe’s rape case, losing one of the most dominate teammates in NBA history, having multiple losing seasons (or lost seasons, take your pick), etc. In comparison with Kobe, I had a couple of bad relationships that made me feel as if it was the end of the world, not having any scouts offer me anything my first two years of high school, and my parents divorce to top off the dinner table. How does someone get through all this drama and be able to function?
In my little world, there was no way, till I went back and looked at what Kobe did when all of his real world problems were happening. His way was taking it out on the court, with this killer instinct; this mentality of no one can stop what I want to do on the court. Didn’t matter if it was pick n’ roll, drive drive, 2 dribbles, pull up, or those crazy, 6 hands in his face, fade away three point attempt that would find a way to drop in the basket. Despite all of those critics, this man would find a way to rebuttal with no excuses or helping hands. Kobe was going to find a way to will his team to victory, with or without them.
After watching that for so many years, that mindset has no choice but to become a part of your personality. You want to live that life of proving the doubters wrong and throwing your absolute best at everything you do every day because you’re witnessing someone doing that exact thing. You were watching a man with no limits. We were watching someone that wanted perfection from others and himself. Nothing less, nothing more. That’s the subliminal message he wanted to inspire in each and everyone of his fans; giving up is not an option, and chasing your dreams is THE only option.
Before everyone wanted to live and die by a behind the back pull up three, there was the infamous “KOBE!” fadeaway. You know, the one where it didn’t look nearly identical to Kobe (much less, Jordan) fadeaway, but if you made that 1 out of 30 shots, you would run down the court with that swagger of a champ. That was Kobe, stubborn as a mule, yet wiser than words can describe. Still crazy to me that this man is retired, when it felt like yesterday I watched him pull 60 on these young bloods (insert an Uncle Drew soundbite).
Brandon A. Warren