I watch the video above and have a variety of thoughts. I think of how long it’s been; how young Kobe was when he got started and how much of a grizzled veteran he is now. How much wear those legs have endured. How much time in the gym he’s spent. How tired he looks in some of those clips. I marvel at the legends he’s passed during his ongoing scoring binge and wonder how much higher on that ladder he can climb.
Then, I’m almost overwhelmed by a sense of appreciation. Kobe and I are roughly the same age. I’ve been lucky enough to see his entire career unfold, watching nearly every game, and seeing how he’s grown from that young kid with the mini-afro to the the man that stands before us today. I’ve seen the ups and downs; the championships; the devastating losses. And through it all, I’ve seen him persevere - playing a game with a drive and dedication that not too many give in any apsect of their lives.
As we sit here today, in Kobe’s 16th season, I reflect and try understand how far he’s come in his basketball journey and how much longer it will be. He speaks in interviews acknowledging his mortality, talking about how he won’t hold on to be an 18 point scorer and how he won’t chase rings on another team. How he’ll retire a Laker.
I listen to the words and I feel thankful. Thankful that he played at all but even moreso that he played for the team that I cheer for. Fans of some teams never get to call an all-timer their own. Even fewer get to see that player only suit up for their team. There’s a kinship that develops between you and that player. Not to the point that you don’t see their faults, but to the point that you accept the flaws and appreciate the player anyway. Fans of the Spurs who got to see Duncan work all these years know what I mean.
So, enjoy the video above. Enjoy the time he has left and revel in the accomplishments to come. Odds are, we won’t have another player quite like him that we call our own for some time.