by Kyan Will Pampolina
2020 NBA League is just around the corner, and it’s a good morning to get some motivation from the story of a legend.
Do you remember yourself being so excited about having a piece of paper to throw so you could go somewhere inside the classroom, aim for the trash can, and shoot that paper as you utter the name, “KOBE“! It’s been five months since we woke up to that morning that felt colder than the usual, but I bet it would take the world forever to forget the five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Champion who scored 81 points in a single game.
Many Lasallians grieved the passing of the legendary basketball player, Kobe Bryant, on the morning of January 26th, 2020. Different social media platforms were filled with Kobe’s pictures and Lasallian’s own stories of how the life and the career of Kobe inspire them.
Kobe Bryant, the son of 76er Joe “JellyBean” Bryant, played both in the NBA and in Italy. It was in this country in Europe where Kobe first developed the “Mamba Mentality” which was drawn from his experiences of being an African-American who fought for diversity. At a young age, the legend would play basketball with men rather than with kids without knowing that he would one day become the “Mamba”.
The Mamba Mentality became an inspiration to a lot of basketball players, young or old. This mentality that Kobe Bryant created was the epitome of effort and class paired with his tenacious work ethic. He would demand nothing but the best from each of his teammates even to the point of screaming motivations at them, “tough love”. Despite being called arrogant by people, or “uncoachable” as Phil Jackson would describe him, Kobe would remain this discipline in his team. It might have been really hard for Kobe’s teammates to live up to his expectations, but it was definitely much more difficult for their opponent. Kobe was always so driven to win that any adversity had only fueled him to succeed even more.
When Kobe Bryant came back to the United Sates, he played three varsity seasons for Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. People called it an unprecedented or non-traditional that Kobe left the High School varsity to be declared as part of the NBA draft which is an annual event for potential players in the NBA league.
The general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West also known as “The Logo”, further supported and scouted Kobe Bryant. Even though High School students were usually denounced to join the league due to lack of experience, Jerry West saw potential in Kobe and he separated the young athlete from the rest. West decided to pull the trigger and trade their starting center, Vlade Divac, for Kobe Bryant who was only the 13th pick. Bryant was first drafted by the Hornets, and the rest was history.
Kobe came to win five NBA Championships alongside other notable basketball stars such as Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol. He retired in 2016 with the Los Angeles Lakers garnering 60 individual points against the Utah Jazz. Even at the twilight of his career in the NBA league, the Mamba was still great and dominant.
Aside from an amazing career in the NBA and his Mamba Mentality, Kobe Bryant’s wisdom is another thing his fans adore him for. Even Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Kuzma, and many other personalities always sought inspiration from Kobe. His words have become life not only for basketball players, but for everyone who hears it. Kobe once said that to “get better every day” is the only way to be successful.
The passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, on the 26th of January has become one of the reasons the world welcomed 2020 with broken hearts. It was sudden and tragic that we could only imagine how difficult it is for Vanessa Bryant, his wife, and their children, to accept and heal from it. Kobe’s death serves as his final teaching. Let it be a reminder for us that life is indeed too short to waste, so if you have the opportunity to love, to apologize or to forgive, do it.