Kobe Bryant passed away on January 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash that killed himself and his daughter Gianna, as well as 7 others. The NBA world was taken by shock as Kobe Bryant was an icon in the basketball world and a role model to millions of young athletes around the world as well as many players currently in the NBA and other professional sports. When the news broke I was in shock, my basketball idol had died.
Throughout my basketball life I have always been a Celtics fan. With this has come with hating the Lakers and therefore hating Kobe Bryant. With living in Massachusetts most basketball fans hate the Lakers and Kobe Bryant due to the fact that he continuously beat the Celtics in the finals. My first interaction with a Kobe fan was my cousin. He encouraged me to watch some Kobe highlights, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked like watching a video game, he did whatever he wanted on the court and just found a way to put the ball in the basket. From this point forward I was no longer a Kobe hater but I wasn’t a fan, the die-hard Celtics fan wouldn’t let me support a lifetime Laker.
As my basketball knowledge developed and I watched videos and read about Kobe he became an inspiration to me. He was praised on the internet for his work ethic and the only thing that fans dislike about him was the narrative that he didn’t pass. In 2015 my brother, father and I attended a Celtics-Lakers game at TD Garden. I remember being disappointed because Kobe wasn’t doing anything eye-catching, he played well from start to finish but nothing that seemed too crazy. I remember that what he did was win. The Celtics Lakers rivalry is one of the best in sports and the Lakers only had 5 wins going into the game. Kobe did what he had to do to win, as a 12 year old sports fan he greatly changed my perspective.
My whole basketball career up to this point had been me focusing on myself. I wanted to score and do everything I could to get good numbers. After seeing one of the best players of all time put the team before himself showed me that basketball and sports in general is not about personal achievement it’s about winning.
As I continued through my basketball career and when I hit middle school my dad warned me that I needed to start working harder as the competition was going to get better and better. With this encouragement from my dad, I started to research some hard workers in the NBA. Every link led me to Kobe Bryant. One story that I will never forget came from Jay Williams in an interview. Williams is a retired NBA player who competed against Kobe throughout his career. In this particular story Williams explains how his team at the time was matched up to play the Lakers. Williams explained that he got to the gym 4 hours before tip off and when he got there the only person shooting around was Kobe Bryant. Kobe worked out for another hour and a half and then got done. That game he would score 40 points and lead the Lakers to a win. After the game Williams explained that he was so amazed by Kobe’s work out before the game that he asked him why he worked so hard. Kobe responded by saying, “I saw you come in and I want you to know that no matter how hard you work I will work harder than you.” This mentality became known as Mamba Mentality. The idea that no matter what it takes to win, it is your job to put the team on your back and win at all costs.
This mentality has been passed on to millions of young athletes worldwide and has affected lots of professional athletes. Kobe’s unbelievable work ethic and passion as well as his impressive style of play and dedication to the game has been admired by millions and he will be tremendously missed as not only a basketball player but as a father and a husband.
8/23/76 – 1/26/20