Since January 26th, 2020, I’ve been trying to find the words to explain how I felt about the terrible tragedy that took place. And as of February 5th, 2020, I still haven’t found those words. This still doesn’t feel real. Bear with me as I try to verbalize what this loss means to me.
I didn’t have any personal interactions with Kobe but I still felt like I knew him. I’m sure many others feel the same way. People in my age range basically grew up with Kobe. As a basketball enthusiast, the kinship was made even deeper. Typically I have some insightfulness, humor, sarcasm and badinage in my writing. But today, I don’t have the capacity to be witty. I simply want to reflect on some of my favorite memories of a man who captivated the world.
“Practice get real uncomfortable when I’m out this muthaf*cka!!!!”
This is what life is like with Kobe as a teammate when you bullshit and don’t make winning a priority. I never felt bad when I heard stories of Kobe treating his teammates harshly. His track record proved they deserved it. Work hard. Cut the nonsense. Bring your lunch pail and hard hat everyday. Be a winner. Thats it. That’s all. Follow those rules and escape Kobe’s wrath.
“Shaq: ‘Throw me the ball!!!’ Kobe: ‘No. Work.'”
Imagine a 22 year old challenging the most dominant player in league history. Shaq wasn’t excused. His goal was to be the greatest ever so why would he concede to a dude that didn’t even show up to training camp in shape? It might have seemed like Kobe was overstepping his bounds at the time but as his career progressed, it was obvious there was a method to his madness. He demanded perfection from EVERYONE. If you didn’t bring that same level of dedication to the table then Kobe was going to let you know about it. Says a lot about you if you think this is a problem.
“Alright, I hung out with you so now you gotta come hang out with me.”
Again just Kobe being Kobe. If you wanna drag the Mamba out to the club, be prepared to be dragged to the gym. And he put it all in perspective. He wasn’t telling anyone what to do with their downtime. He just said make sure it doesn’t compromise your craft. Michael Jordan gambled, partied and smoked cigars on game nights. Pretty sure Kobe could live with his results. If you wanna party, then you better produce.
“Rob the Trainer: ‘So when did you finish?’ Kobe: ‘Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.'”
Just another glimpse into the insane work ethic that made Kobe one of the greatest to ever do it. A trainer who was working with the US Olympic Basketball team during the 2012 campaign who identified himself on Reddit simply as “Rob” said that he gave Kobe his number and told him to call him whenever he wanted to get some extra work in. Guess he didn’t know what he was getting himself into. Kobe hit him at 4:15am and told him to head straight to the gym. After their session, Rob the Trainer went back to the hotel to get some sleep before the team’s 11:00am scrimmage. He gets back to the gym to see Kobe still there. After the overtime, Kobe stuck around to get his 800 makes in. If anybody thought they worked hard then they never saw Kobe work.
I tried to put together some impressive masterpiece but no matter what I wrote, it didn’t seem good enough. There are no words that can encapsulate Kobe’s greatness. The reality of this situation still hasn’t set in for me yet. I miss him greatly as I’m sure many of you do. He had given us so many great moments and I feel like the best was yet to come. I can’t help but wonder what post-retirement Kobe would have been like. He was starting to share himself with the world in a way that he hadn’t done before. I will cherish these memories forever. Love you Kobe. Love you GiGi. R.I.P. to Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan. You will not be forgotten. Kobe’s memory will continue to live on through these cherished memories.