Monday Moments – RIP Kobe Bryant
For those who know me, basketball is among the least likely topics I’d write about. And while I don’t feel qualified to speak anything about the game itself, as a Los Angeleno for nearly thirty years, I do feel qualified to speak on Kobe Bryant’s connection with this city, which I now realize is incredibly deep and heartfelt.
I went to the gym today and people were wearing Lakers caps and Kobe jerseys. The TVs above the machines played photos and sports footage in remembrance. And at the grocery store, I saw a little old lady walking around in a Laker’s long sleeve shirt. On a street corner, a man swung a sign that simply read “Kobe.” Billboards along the 405 displayed RIP Kobe messages and at the laundromat, where I sit writing this, faces are glued to NBC coverage on Kobe. Staples center is filled with those grieving and while there is no denying that Kobe was far from perfect, there is also no denying that he had moments of near-perfection.
Los Angeles is in mourning.
So, I thought back to my own memories…
I remember hearing everyone in the early 2000s talk about the smug kid who rocked the court and had gone to the NBA straight out of high school. Kobe is one year younger than I am, so I remember this as someone of the same age as himself. While I could barely make it to a 9am economics class, I remember talk of Kobe and Shaquille O’Neil like they were another McCartney/Lennon Duo – a force to be reckoned with.
I remember the Laker’s being Phil Jackson’s team and Kobe being his superstar. That team became Kobe’s team, where he spent his whole career.
I remember the unity that was felt in the air when Kobe did his thing and brought the Lakers to victory after victory. It was his name that was spoken the loudest. It was his name that was called out when people shot hoops. Over the years, Kobe Bryant became a central part of Los Angeles – in its history, its people and its love.
For a city of mostly transplants, it’s a rare thing. From my experience, people in Los Angeles have love of teams from their hometown or where they went to college. Anyone remember when LA Raiders jerseys were considered gang-wear and banned from schools? Yeah, not exactly the team spirit you want.
But the Laker’s were different. They had Kobe, a constant for 20 years. And that gave Los Angeles something to connect with in a city of disconnect.
RIP to all those who perished on that helicopter
RIP to a part of LA’s history