I love the game of basketball. Or at the very least, I used to love it. As a kid, I used to play basketball every single day on the side of my house. Walk down to the park down the street to the park and play for hours. Though I don’t play physically anymore and I don’t dabble in playing the game, I do like to watch the highlights and follow the world of it through shows like First Take, Undisputed, and things of that nature. I knew I still loved the game when I discovered Kuroko no Basket, watching the show religiously and reading the manga afterward because I was so engrossed in the artistry of showcasing the game through animation so beautifully.
As someone who isn’t necessarily “tuned in” in on the social media outlets, who doesn’t check their phone every thirty seconds and scroll down their feed, or post with the intent on earning likes, I found out about the death of one of the greatest basketball players to ever played the game after running an errand for my girlfriend. I stepped into the house with intentions on going to work only to overhear a news reporter. I heard what she was saying but my brain didn’t process fast enough. I asked for clarification only to be countered with have you not seen you feed?
When she told me the news, I found myself in disbelief. I sat down and even though they were talking about it on her phone, I searched for myself and over the course of the next few hours, learned that it was very real.
As I started to descend into the chaos of the internet, searching for updates on terrible tragedy, I realized that I was surprisingly numb to it all. Jumping from article to article, reading about all of his accomplishments and the legacy that he was leaving behind on one end while also watching as people started to bring up the negative things associated with him in the past just made me indifferent. I am usually not one to get torn up over celebrities passing. I feel for the those who do those and for their families, but it usually isn’t something that hits me hard.
But my girlfriend said something that really centered my focus and shifted my perspective in such way that I would understand what she was feeling. She questioned what it must have been like for him, a father to look at his daughter… both of them terrified as the helicopter barrelled towards the ground. It was then that I imagined him wrapped his arms around his weeping child, tears streaking down his face in those final moments as his tried to comfort her. Though I didn’t ask it, what goes through a person’s mind in their final moments? What do you say?
Add the perspective of the being a parent and I couldn’t imagined the fear. I watch my girlfriend morale sink in the matter of hours, the weight of it all closing in on her. I saw how she looked at her own son, the gears turning in her head and knew in that moment what it must have been like to be a parent when tragedy strikes. Speaking to very close friend about the matter, he said that he held his daughter that night in his arms, unable to let her go.
For me, tt was a honest and genuine reminder of our own mortality. It reminded me just how fragile life is for not only myself but for those around me. I thought of how devastated her wife and other children must be to have their father taken away from them so abruptly, without warning. Their daughter and sibling, now gone. I imagined what that would do to me and shuddered inwardly. I don’t know what I would do to suddenly have to deal with losing two people that I were the most important people in my life. To not be able to see them, speak to them, or hold them again.
It made me question how I was living. How easy it was for me to forget that the life I living was not guaranteed. That every time I closed my eyes to go sleep, I was taking a risk of not waking up in the morning. Every choice and decision made was another opportunity for it to be my last. What would I be leaving behind if it had happened to me? How would I be remembered? Would I feel like I lived my life the best way I knew how?
Kobe Bryant was person that transcended the mere sport of basketball. He was a global icon for not only his skills on the court but for his attitude and work ethic. He was relentless and driven well beyond the mere mortal to achieve his goals and settled for nothing less than his best each and every day. His legacy on the court barely scratches the surface of what that man put his mind and body through. And the sad thing is, that it was just started to blossom off the court… taking his love of basketball and finding new ways of expression through film, books, and other forms of media.
The people he has touched and inspired cannot even be measured.
Just off of the top of my head, there are several characters in anime right now that were inspired by Kobe. His mentality can be found in every shonen character that pushes themselves to the limit and beyond. Hell, Kobe was the human embodiment of the mantra “Go beyond plus Ultra!”
Speaking of which, My Hero Academia creator Kohei Horikoshi honored Kobe with this illustration of Deku wearing a pair of sneakers that Kobe wore.
I remember tuning in each and every week to watch Kuroko No Basket, trying to spot the plays and moves that were based off the things inspired by the NBA. There was no doubt in my mind that Kise Ryota was inspired by Kobe… who was in turn inspired Aomine who was based off Michael Jordan.
But I digress. The world mourns over the loss of one of shining stars, his daughter, and the seven other people who passed away in the helicopter crash. Though Kobe Bryant will be missed, his legacy and his presence here will never be forgotten. He was a bright mind who was ready to show the world his love for the game in so many different ways! I remember just how excited I was when he released two videos of the styles of play between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors during the NBA finals. How he made the game seem as simple as a nursery rhyme, explaining the forms of attack each team employed during the game.
It was mesmerizing. I understood the game but I would have never thought to teach the game in such a way. If you haven’t seen them, check them out here and let me know what you think. I’ve already rewatched these a dozen times absent mindedly. It was one of the things that inspired this post.
Until the next post… Rest in Peace Black Mamba.