I have lived in a sort of suspended belief since yesterday afternoon. Moments are often profound and I will never forget being in the kids food aisle at the grocery store shopping for food for my son when the news about Kobe hit. The loss of everyone yesterday will leave a void that will be impossible to fill.
Vic Lombardi today…”Kobe didn’t die as a player. Kobe died as a parent, taking his daughter and her teammates to a basketball game.” Wow. That hits. Hard. Kobe transcended sport and he elevated his stature as a father, husband, mentor, coach, ambassador once his first career was over.
By my count, I saw Kobe play at the Pepsi Center 19 times. I step back and am astounded at that number and I realize how unbelievably lucky I am to say that. I didn’t particularly like Kobe at the time. A sentiment I shared with most Nuggets fans and Coloradans. I(we) struggled through the Anthony Carter inbounds Pass, the other Anthony Carter inbounds pass and dagger after dagger after dagger. Kobe won a Western Conference championship on our court. December 5, 2007 – Iverson had scored 49 points in the first three quarters and the game was tied going into the 4th. Kobe held AI to 2 points in the 4th, scored 12 and the Lakers won. 2008, 3rd game of the year – Lakers beat the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center, Iverson’s last game as Nugget. This game is especially memorable because of the run the Nuggets went on after they traded AI for Billups. A run that ended at the hands of Kobe and the Lakers later that season in the Western Conference Finals. December 22, 2015 – Kobe’s 2nd to last game at the Pepsi Center (this was essentially his last game at PC…he played 10 minutes in his actual final game) and the last game I saw him play. Of course he dropped 31 that night and led a bad Lakers team to a Win. The games in Denver brought out the best in him and damn were they fun.
Don’t Cheat the Game. Kobe was MUST SEE TV. Nobody in any sport brought it every night like Kobe did. Arguments can be made for “best player ever” all the time but this trait can only be shared with MJ. I chose to skip LeBron games but I would have never missed a Kobe game.
The profound impact of this loss multiplies when you see the kind of person Kobe became after his career was over. His kids were everything to him. He was at peace with his legacy and used the same intensity to create what should have been the next, and most fulfilling, chapter of his life.
The last two days have been about perspective. Do I have the “Mamba Mentality” with everything I do in life? Am I the best Dad to Nora and Bodhi and Husband to Nikki? Have I prepared enough to make an impact at work and in my community?
I believe Kobe would tell us to compete in everything but also be complete in everything. If there is a hole somewhere, do your best to fix it. Achieve but be ready when the time is right to slow down, step back and take what the defense gives you.