I was never a basketball fan until I watched you destroy the San Antonio spurs in the NBA playoffs of 2002. That game ended 99-80 in favour of the Lakers and gave the Lakers a playoff series lead at 2-1. You scored 31 points in that game and made me fall in love with the Lakers and ever since I’ve been hooked.
You weren’t a god, neither were you immortal as your death just proved, you weren’t perfect and you’ve made it known on countless occasions but one thing I know for a fact is that you always excelled in everything you do because your work ethic was borderline insane, your discipline, dedication, attention to details and passion is second to none. You’ve always given your best irrespective of where you find yourself.
I remember in 2013 when we played the Warriors. As a culture and due to time difference, I always go to bed early whenever we have a game so I can wake up in the early hours of the next day to stream the game live. I saw you limping back on court to take those two free throws that tied the game and you did it on half legs after tearing your Achilles tendon. You dropped 81 points on the Raptors (watched the replay of this game and it still gives me chills whenever I do). Dropped 60 points in your final game as well.
Preparation was an obsession for you and were willing to perfect the minutiae of every game that will give you an edge over your opponents. You prepared for every game like it was your last. To you every game mattered, and you didn’t just say it, you showed it with your performances on the court. You never had any trouble rising to the occasion, in fact, the occasion rises to you most times because you always prepared but it isn’t. you were a perfectionist to a fault.
You are a true definition of “whatsoever the mind can conceive, is achievable”. We were just celebrating the fact that another Laker (LeBron) displaced you the other night on the all-time point scorers’ chart in the NBA when we lost to the 76ers and you were cool with it.
Your passing felt like the loss of a family because I hold you very dear to my heart. And it is even more heart-breaking that Gigi passed on with you. You promised to be a better father to your kids after your past mistakes and you sure put in the effort to make it work.
You weren’t the best in everything you did, you weren’t even perfect, you were a flawed human just like everyone, but you sure gave your best shot at being the best and giving it your all. You one said these words “To a certain extent, every day I was vulnerable. You’re always dealing with fear, with something in your imagination. Something that you think can happen. But you just say, ‘I don’t know if I can do that. But I’ll give it a try.’” That’s you confronting your fears.
Thank you for the inspiration and the wonderful memories. Rest in the peace Kobe.
And for the last time “Mamba Out”.
By Sommy Jack