By: ENZO MORALES
On the morning of January 26, 2020, the world lost one of the most phenomenal and amazing human beings who has ever lived. When the news broke out, it was like the entire world paused all of a sudden. He reportedly died from a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA, along with his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers. This has brought mixed reactions as people all over the world were shocked and others were in disbelief and hoping that it was just one of those fake news. But when multiple reliable sources confirmed its authenticity, reality started to creep in and fans all over the world were devastated.
Kobe played 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 5 championships, 1 regular season MVP, 2 Finals MVPs, 18 All-Star Appearances, and 4 All-Star MVPs. On the court, Kobe was considered a beast which earned him the name “Black Mamba”. He would usually drop a thirty piece and would occasionally score 50 points, but even after that, he kept his amazing work ethic and trained for a few more hours before calling it a day. Although, he would still remain a girl-dad and made sure to spend as much time with his girls at home. Most notably, he would coach his 13-year old daughter’s basketball team and instill in them the “Mamba Mentality”; which is “all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most,” Per(Link). Kobe would pour his heart out into teaching his daughter’s team the same way Gianna would when playing. Her work ethic was just like Kobe’s and they would train multiple hours a day.
His death was honored by millions of people tweeting his name on social media and sharing heartfelt thoughts about Kobe. A huge gathering in Staples Center was also seen where fans chanted his name. Multiple NBA teams also honored him by intentionally committing a 24 and 8-second shot clock violation as these represent his jersey numbers. One team would dribble the ball past half-court and would hold the ball for 24-seconds until the shot-clock expired and the other team would hold the ball for 8-seconds until the backcourt violation sound went off. Numerous players honored him by wearing Kobe apparel before and during the game. Players would also write “RIP Kobe” on their shoes and a couple of players who wore #24 or #8 changed their numbers to pay their respects.
A two-hour public memorial for Kobe and Gigi held on 2/24/20 showcased performances from Beyonce and Alicia Keys. Heartfelt speeches from former NBA players and close friends highlighted the memorial. Notable speakers include Michael Jordan, Jimmy Kimmel, and Shaq. But the most powerful speech came from Bryant’s wife, Vanessa. Her courage to speak to thousands of people was greatly admired by millions of fans worldwide which contained two parts, one for her daughter Gianna and the other for Kobe. She stated “Kobe always said [Gigi] was me,” Vanessa said. “She had my fire, my personality and sarcasm. She was tender and loving on the inside. She had the best laugh. It was infectious. It was pure and genuine. (Per: Link)” Sabrina Ionescu, an Oregon player also said, “If I represented the present of the women’s game, Gigi was the future, and Kobe knew it, (Per: Link)”
The All-Star game honored Kobe and Gianna by allowing all the players to wear either number 24 or 2 depending on what team they’re on as well as an untimed fourth quarter, meaning, if one team scores 130 points after the third quarter, and the other team scores 124, the target score to win the game will be 154. The NBA All-Star MVP award will also be renamed the ”Kobe Bryant MVP Award”. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game, He always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world. (Per: Link)”
Kobe may have been gone, but his legacy lives on through each and every one of us. His long-lasting legacy and impact on basketball will forever be remembered and his ability to play at a high level and still be one of the best girl-dad’s will inspire not just us, but the future generations as well.