When a celebrity dies, I don’t usually feel much. I never fully understood how people feel something for someone they never met. From Prince to Michael Jackson, maybe I was to young or didn’t get it as a fan. I knew what they meant to the era and understood paying respects but it always felt odd to me reading peoples messages about a stranger.
But today was different, when I saw the news, this unreal feeling took over me. I spent most of the day mopping around and trying to understand why I felt this way. Like most fans I never meet Kobe and don’t actually know him. This made no sense.
But then it hit me. I am 5 years younger than Kobe which means that his 20 years career coincided with my formative years as a basketball fan. I was 12 when he was drafted and 32 when he retired.
I realized how many memories I had because of this man.
How many posters I cut out from SLAM magazines and posted in my bedroom as a teen.
How I went from loving him as a young player when he won the dunk contest, to hating the Lakers when they started winning (Spurs fan here). Then to liking the Lakers again after Kobe beat me into submission with his competitive fire.
I feared and respected his talents so much that I eventually became a fan. My sister and I used to scream at the TV every time he had the ball down the stretch, it was infuriating how often he broke our teams hearts.
I remember laying on the couch at my parents house watching the Lakers play the Raptors and midway through the third quarter calling one of my boys (pre-group chat days) and saying “Are you F-ing watching this?” We were giddy watching greatness destroy our team. That’s how good he was.
I remember the 50 points+ games streak , I used to check the scores at night just to see what he did, it was insane.
Even if you are not a basketball fan, when someone throws something in the garbage and yells “Kobe” you know what they are referring to. That’s how much he meant to my generation. He was more than a basketball player. He was a verb.
I remember watching him in his final game, with father time clearly having taken a toll on his body, he retired his way, gun slinging and scoring 60 points one last time. I actually stood up in my living room that night alone to give him a slow clap standing ovation.
The young M.J era happened before my love of ball but I had the Privilege to see all of prime KOBE. He was M.J for my generation.
I know that today there are tons of pieces out there dedicated to him. This is mine.
Thank you for the Memories. Rest in Peace Kobe- Mamba Out.