The world of sports and entertainment collided with real-life yesterday when we lost Kobe Bryant.
As a fan of the New England Patriots, I have often associated Kobe Bryant with Tom Brady. Neither guy will go down as the “best” of all time, but Brady is certainly “the greatest of all time” in the NFL, and Kobe though he may not top the list in the NBA, he sits on a very short list.
When I think of Kobe, I think of “Clutch”. I have maintained for years that if I was coaching a dream team and we had one shot left, I would want the ball in Kobe’s hands. Michael Jordan and LeBron James would be on my team, and for 47 minutes and 50 seconds, my offense runs between those two guys. But, the last 10 seconds of the game belong to Kobe.
As someone who was born in the mid-1980s, my teenage years’ was spent watching Kobe. I don’t think there is a person my age who at some point and time didn’t crumple up a piece of paper, shoot it at a garbage can, and yell “KOBE!”.
As much as I will always remember Kobe for his on-court accomplishments, his life after basketball can’t be forgotten. Kobe didn’t want to just be remembered as a basketball player, and in the very short time he had off of the court he stayed beyond busy. He won an academy award, he mentored and coached young basketball players. Kobe was the most high profile advocate for the WNBA. He was passionate about literacy and encouraged children to win by reading. But, his greatest accomplishment in life was being a father.
As a father of two girls of my own, without ever meeting Kobe, I know that he would have given up his life a thousand times over if it would have saved Gianna. It’s never easy when somebody loses a life, but Gianna had her whole life ahead of her, and the news that she and one of her teammates were in the crash, it became even more devastating.
Right now we are all mourning, and as time goes on and life gets back to normal, the debates will rage again. Lists will be made, accomplishments will be questioned. But, the legacy he leaves behind will survive through his daughters and loved ones, and that’s bigger than anything he ever did on the basketball court.
The only thing that brings me peace at this moment is knowing that somewhere, Gianna and Kobe are running a pick-up game, and I can guarantee you, Kobe’s setting up to take the game-winning three as we speak.