Whether you’re a Celtics fan, Lakers fan, casual basketball fan, or just casual sports fan, I think we can all agree the news of Kobe, Gianna, and the 7 other passengers dying on that helicopter on Sunday is the darkest news we’ve received in the sports world in years.
It was easy to root against Kobe for years as a lifelong Celtics fan. It was also easy to respect and enjoy his work ethic, achievements, and impact on the game of basketball. I think many of us felt we’d see him relish his retirement for years to come by attending Lakers games with his family, working out male and female basketball players who looked up to him, and making TV appearances to talk about the game he so very much loved.
For the longest time I saw Kobe as a cut-throat, no nonsense competitor on the basketball court. Seeing him enjoy retirement by coaching Gianna’s basketball team and acting as a mentor for so many younger players, on and off the court, really put him in a new light for me. You could tell he was just embracing life as a retired NBA legend.
We all thought Kobe was immortal and indestructible… and that’s part of what made us love him…or “hate” him depending on the team you root for in the NBA. That’s also what makes this news so hard to comprehend. Kobe… no way he’s dead. He’d overcome anything. This guy was walking and shooting free throws with a torn Achilles. He’d rehab, come back, and play 3 more seasons. This is an injury that has ended the careers of many athletes. I can easily picture Kobe somehow climbing out of that helicopter and pulling everyone to safety… because it’s KOBE BEAN BRYANT… THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND! I just can’t wrap my head around this, as I know many others can’t. Kobe’s legacy on and off the basketball court will live on forever. In my eyes he still is and always will be immortal and indestructible.
The number of athletes we call/know on a first name basis is few and far between. Kobe is one of the few and a name we won’t soon forget. Sean Grande, the Celtics radio announcer perfectly illustrated how Celtics fans like myself feel following his death…
Rest in Peace Kobe.