Most people spend a large chunk of their life waiting for something to happen. It’s usually something they want to occur, but sometimes it’s something they are scared to witness. We’re all scared to lose things in life — especially if that something would crush us deep inside of our hearts. Sometimes that something is a feeling we’ve grown an extensive appreciation for, or it’s something you can’t fathom to live without. For NBA fans, especially my generation, it’s the retirement of Kobe Bryant.
Literally as long as I've been alive Kobe Bryant has been in the NBA. There isn't an athlete I respect more. He is basketball. #MambaDay
— Dylan Schroeder (@DSchroeder34) April 13, 2016
It was about 7:30 AM when the alarm on my phone woke me up this morning. As I was lying in bed scrolling through the Twittersphere — as I usually do for about five minutes before I get up — I realized what day it was. April 13, 2016. A day that will forever be known around the basketball world as Mamba Day. The day Kobe Bryant played his last game in the NBA.
At the exact moment I understood what was happening, I realized how cluttered my timeline would be all day with tribute posts and video montages — similar to this one — saluting Kobe one final time before his time in the NBA had finished fizzling away. One final chance to thank Kobe for the impact he has had on that said person’s life.
Kobe has played in the NBA for literally my entire life (1996). I’ve never had a candle be placed on my birthday cake without Kobe being active in the NBA. Even from my point of view — a Celtics fan — I respect Kobe more than any athlete I’ve ever watched. The tenacity, aggression, rage, commitment, guts, and beauty that Kobe played the game with has been so attractive to watch. Kobe helped me fall in love with the game of basketball — as he did for millions of others.
Depending on who you talk to, Kobe was either the greatest basketball hero they had ever witnessed, or a villain that only played for himself (and happened to break the back of your favorite team several times).
What was undeniable was Kobe’s love for the game. Kobe played the game with so much passion. Kobe played the game with an immense appetite for competition. Kobe was a psychotic basketball robot that was programmed not to lose.
Say what you will about how silly, or ironically displeasing it has been to see the Mamba showered with praises from opposing crowds where in preceding years he was viewed as a villain from the same sets of eyes. Go ahead, I’m not stopping you. I feel the same way about how awkward it has been this season watching one of the most ruthless killers in the history of the NBA practically begin each game with a tear in his eye. That isn’t who the Mamba is, and that isn’t what I’ll remember him for.
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