Like millions of other basketball fans, I mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant.
Even as a Celtics fan, I knew that every time I watched Kobe, I was watching greatness. He was a heartbreaker, his killer mentality combined with what felt like an infinite number of moves and counters made him a damn near impossible guard. There was never a moment too big or a stage too large, you were never surprised if the shot went in, it was just who Kobe was.
After news of his passing hit, my first thoughts were with his family. As a relatively new father, I can’t imagine the type of pain Vanessa Bryant and his three daughters are going through. It was tragic to lose Kobe but seeing that Gianna Bryant was also a victim is even more heartbreaking. My heart also goes out to the seven other victims, I hope that their families and loved ones eventually find piece.
My next thought was just how big of a loss this was for the game of basketball. Yes, Kobe retired in 2016, but his impact never wavered. LeBron made by the NBA’s current superstar, but he may never have the impact that Kobe had. LeBron is like a mythological creature, there has never been anyone with his combination of size, speed, and strength. Its hard to relate to someone who looks like they were created by the Greek gods.
Kobe, on the other hand, was relatable. He was admired because his tireless work ethic and drive propelled him to superstardom. There was always a new move or counter he created to close the gap between his opponents. No one worked harder than Kobe, he knew that to be great that he would have to scratch, claw, and grind.
While it can be argued he was never the best player during the era in which he played, there was no argument about who was the most popular and revered. Kobe was tough, both mentally and physically, and would never concede when things got too difficult. For almost two decades, he was the center of the NBA, even as other players began to surpass him. The reason was simple, everyone could adopt his mentality and apply it to their daily lives.
Unfortunately at times, life can be tragic and unfair. Just as soon as Kobe was hitting his stride outside of basketball, I recommend you watch the excellent Dear Basketball animation, his time was cut short. I already felt that the NBA was missing something when Kobe retired, but now, after his passing, I realized just how many players idolized him. There are so many who wanted to be like him and imitated his game because you could do so if you put in the work.
Kobe Bryant will be missed and his impact will be felt as long as basketball is played. It may be a hole that the NBA may never fill. But imagine, for just a moment, just how better you can be if you adopted the Mamba mentality. I think he would want it that way. Kobe was all of us.