Kobe Bryant and I are the same age (he also, coincidentally, shares a birthday with my older brother). Some 19 years ago when Kobe stood at a podium with his Oakley sunglasses propped up on his forehead to announce that he was taking his talents to the NBA, I too was transitioning to that next phase in my life and preparing to go away to college. After it was announced that this high school kid would be a Laker, I, naturally, took a great interest in his career.
In the nearly 19 years that Kobe has worn a Lakers’ jersey so much has occurred it’s nearly impossible to recount it all. Airballs in Utah, ridiculous shots in Portland on the last day of a season, a championship celebration in Orlando, a fractured hand, a hurt shoulder, a ruptured achilles…it all blends together like a desert landscape viewed through the window on a long car ride. I’d pick out one moment, but I don’t have a favorite uncle; my family is my family.
The new moments, though, act as a reminder. They jog the memory and turn history into today’s celebration, recreating the feeling from many years ago by rekindling the flames of past accomplishments. Especially when today’s acts truly are a culmination of what is, essentially, a life’s work.
We’ve known this moment was coming for some time. But actually watching it happen, for me at least, was still a tremendous moment. The combination of longevity and production needed to reach such heights astounds me. The fact that the guy who did it is that same guy who, as a kid, had those Oakley’s sitting on his forehead makes it that much more special.
Kobe will never quite be the player many want him to be. As his efficiency wanes, his personality shows more hard edges, and his team suffers more losses than wins another type of validation will come for that sect. And as the complexities of his game, leadership, and overall status as a player are pushed to the middle of the spotlight both sides of the argument will meet with loud voices and even louder arguments trying to get to the bottom of what it all means.
For me, though, there will be none of that. And there especially won’t be some long discussion about Michael Jordan, measuring sticks, and how achievements do or don’t stack up. Kobe is one of the greatest players I ever saw grace a basketball court. Where he falls in that discussion matters less to me than the fact that he is part of that conversation. Far from perfect, but a provider of more moments worth celebrating than not. And, really, what more could you ask for?
The man harnessed his skill through immeasurable work to achieve at a level I never would have expected. He did it his way, for better or for worse, and nearly two decades later is still out there giving it his all. And while many would have hoped for a different route, it’s hard to argue with the path traveled considering there really wasn’t a road map to follow.
Calvin Chang says
Much respect to Kobe. The preparation he put in, the footwork, ability to create his own shot, determination to learn new moves and improve his game – is incredible. But one thing that always stood out was his clutch gene. Other players may have the skill, athleticism, talent, moves,etc. But Kobe always elevated his game in the most important moments. His accuracy seemed to always improve in the last 3 minutes of a game. He’s one of the best closers in the history of the game.
-Nice write up Darius…politically correct, can’t disagree w/ anything stated. Without question, Kobe is one of the best to ever lace them up.
-No other wing has scored as many points…that’s special.
-Hollinger’s power ratings for this week are out: Lakers are at # 23. Above the Heat, Jazz, Knicks, Hornets, Pistons, T ‘Wolves, & Sixers.
-Stein is even kinder: Rating Lakers at #21, Above Nuggets, Jazz, Celtics, Pacers, Hornets, Pistons, Knicks, T ‘Wolves’ & Sixers.
Kevin T says
We win tonight, and its on.
Thanks Jerke for your clarification on the trade exceptions in the previous thread. I don’t think it is wise to exercise the exceptions then trade it again with Nash contract unless it’s a marquee player. The reason I asked because of the chatters in Charlotte on Lance Stephenson and with Nets on Brook Lopez and Deron Williams.
Kobe is an enigma we learn to love after 19 years with the Lakers because of his work ethic and professionalism in giving his job due diligence and faithfully do it to the best of his ability. He is not a perfect person or a role model. In exchange, he’s perceived as selfish, complex person, isolated but the truth he has his inner objectives that others would not dare to imitate. Only the strong achievers would understand what Kobe wants to accomplish. Well there are only few players in NBA today who could perform such rigid preparation, stretch themselves to the limits of physicality at the same time with innate intelligence to search for new moves in basketball or copy some moves; re-enact them again and again to perfection.
When Wilt was still alive in early part of 1999, this is what he said to Bill Plaschke about Kobe:
“Kobe is taking the brunt for every problem they have, he has become their whipping boy, and that’s wrong,” he said. “A lot of his mistakes are just the exuberance of youth.
“If he makes a sensational play and they win, he’s great. But if they lose, then he’s a hot dog. That’s not fair.”
Quick thought…4 games left this month we should be able to win if we keep it up (ind, sac, phx, den) and 4 hard games (okc, dallas, chi, gsw)
Okc is still not 100%, we could get them…well rested with 4 days off and catching them off-guard with the confidence of a forth win in a row tonight, this is not an impossible task….
chicago is not as good as i expected them to be, so i could see us win that1 as well if we can defend their shooters from the corners well(dunleavy!)
I dont give us a shot against gsw, but i could see us win against dallas….so if we could keep this up, have a little bit luck and give 100% effort on both sides, i could see us at 14-18 at the end of the year (6-2 the rest if the way)….would not be bad having played gsw 3times, sa, memphis and dallas 2 times and eatern beasts like washington and toronto behind us as well…..
-@ Oldtimer, Wilt knew, he always said “no one roots for Goliath”.
-So will recent team results turn the Lakers into buyers, sellers, or have no absolutely no effect on their plans for the season?
-Don’t see how Clarkson cracks the rotation. Lin looks better w/ the 2nd unit and can’t see Clarkson actually starting.
Darius, very fair assessment of our Kobe Bean Bryant! Almost made me tear up. LOL. High quality writing as usual.
Oldtimer-Nice reminder from Wilt.