Kobe Bryant Died The Way He Lived And Played Basketball: In A Dramatic Emotionally Moving Fashion Day After Lebron James Passes Him In All-time Scoring
I am shocked beyond belief. Today I planned on watching one of my favorite athletes of all time, Tiger Woods, hopefully win his record 83rd PGA Tour event. I was prepared to cry tears of joy in exuberant celebration. I knew there was a good possibility that today would be 2nd time in the past 12 months that I would cry. The last time being when Tiger Woods completed the greatest comeback story in sports history -- winning the 2019 Masters at age 43 after a 10 year major drought. I was prepared for and was looking forward to crying today. I would be so lucky. And as fate would have it I did get to cry today, but I couldn't have possibly predicted the reason.
Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash the day after Lebron James passed him in all time scoring. In poetic fashion, and Kobe Bryant was a great poet, he died much in the way he lived and played basketball -- in a dramatic, emotionally moving fashion that leaves everyone in awe.
Kobe Bryant was my Michael Jordan. I didn't begin watching sports on TV until 1999. I didn't really get into the NBA until 2001. I saw the tail end of Michael Jordan's career on the Wizards and have since watched everything on YouTube, but to me Kobe Bryant was Michael Jordan reincarnate. He was my opportunity to witness basketball being played with a rare combination of grace and fearlessness. I watched so much of Kobe because he embodied the type of athlete that I have always been captivated in. He was a cold blooded finisher who demanded the ball in the biggest moments, who wasn't afraid to fail, who was so competitive that in high school we would demand playing 1-on-1 to 100 points, who could be found shooting in the darkness of a gym that had yet to have the lights turned on from 5am to 7am before school started. Kobe Bryant was built from the same rare cloth from which only a handful of athletes have ever been built. And now he is gone.
I watched so much Kobe Bryant, I made a bold prediction in his final year of the NBA. Within my group of friends there weren't a lot of Kobe fans. I myself am a Celtics fan, but I am rare in that I LOVED Kobe. So much so that I proclaimed before his final season that Kobe was going to score 50+ points in a game that year. Many friends in the group chat said I was crazy, that Kobe wasn't the player he used to be. That not even Michael Jordan scored 50 points in his final season. In fact he didn't even score 40 in a game his last year. so to think that Kobe would do was asinine. Always the gambler, and knowing that Kobe is the kind of guy who might shoot every single shot in his final game to go out with a bang, I offered my friends up a 5:1 odds bet of any size they wanted, that he would score 50+ in a game. I had a few takers and I watched every single game that year, just as I had in his final few years, on NBA All Access. As each game passed and he didn't get very close, my confidence never wavered. I knew if it came down to the last game Kobe would do what he had always done -- rise to the occasion and do something special.
The last game came around and my group chat was lighting up. My confidence was higher than it had ever been. This was the game I figured he would do it anyway.There was a substantial bet on the line but I went into the game excited, knowing what Kobe was about to do. He ended up scoring not only 50 points, but 61, and willing the Lakers to win after being down double digits in the 4th quarter. It was one of my favorite sporting events ever to watch, and I ended up celebrating so hard that I called into work the next day. Kobe Bryant's legacy will be as one of the 4 on the Mount Rushmore of the NBA. I will miss him dearly, and if you'll excuse me I'm going to YouTube to watch highlights for the next 12 hours.
R.I.P BLACK MAMBA. Thank you for all the entertainment, inspiration, and joy you brought me and the world.