Kobe Bryant was, and will forever be the greatest man on this planet Earth. That’s it.
Man I could really just end this post right now and leave it at simple straight facts, but I guess for content sake, I should write a bit more. At least 81 sentences I suppose.
A Little Fat Kid
I wasn’t truly fat when I was young, but I sure as hell wasn’t in shape. My mom never let me play outside in the street with the other kids, afraid that I could be the victim of some random suburban mom’s speeding SUV. I was allowed to play on my Gameboy Advance for 1 hour every day for fun. Other than that, I found myself filling my spare hours by editing Wikipedia articles, reading the newspaper, and being a general glasses wearing nerd. Sports? Exercise? Nah, not for me.
However this all changed in 2006 when I was preparing to read through my local New York newspaper. I usually skipped to the comics first, read the actual news next, and then conclude with a brief skimming of the sports section in the back. However on one fateful day, the sports section caught my eye first. It seemed a little bit different. The back cover was just one giant photo as opposed to the usual collage. Los Angeles’s Kobe Bryant scores 81 points in a game.
Los Angeles? LA? California? What the hell was this story being displayed so prominently in a New York newspaper? At the time, the young tubby me didn’t understand. But something clicked on that day and a curiosity was born. I would begin looking out for more Kobe and Laker references within the paper. I would pause with a greater familiarity whenever I saw the purple and gold on TV or in the streets. I became curious as to how a basketball was shot, and how I too could score 81 points.
8… 24… Losses In a Row
By the time 8th grade or so rolled around, I was fully hooked. I loved basketball. I sucked at basketball, don’t get me wrong. But I loved it. The majority of my best friends from high school and life today were from basketball. I was complete shit with girls back then, so almost all of my fondest high school memories are just me and my boys shooting hoops. There was a basketball court by my house. The floor was gravel, the rims were net-less and crooked, and the backboard was metal, but it was our court.
After four years of amateur competition in that busted arena, I actually thought I was good at basketball. I had a pair of Kobe VI’s at the time, and I truly felt that I was a cold blooded killer whenever I laced them on. So of course during my freshman year of college, I jumped at the first chance to finally play organized basketball. I gathered a group of friends together, and we formed our own intramural basketball team.
I didn’t expect to win the championship or anything. I figured we’d win a few games, lose a few games, and it would just be a whole lot of fun. We did have one tall guy that played varsity basketball though, so thoughts of a championship didn’t totally escape my mind.
Our first game, we got blown out by 25 points. Not an exaggeration or an estimation. I remember it so clearly. 25 points. The score was 40-15 after 40 minutes of game time. Damn. I remember being a bit shook at our incompetence, but even more so by our luck. Like wow, did we just play the very best team in the first week?
The Binghamton intramural history books will indicate that we did not. We got blown out again the next week. And the week afterwards. And the week afterwards. Everybody has a story of how they overcame adversity and failure, and goddamn this is mine. I lost every single game my freshman year. And then every game my sophomore year. And believe it or not, every game my junior year. I lost more than 30+ intramural basketball games in a row.
What Would Kobe Do?
The work ethic of Kobe Bryant is simply unmatched. There’s absolute zero competition on this planet. Kobe would wake up at 4am to practice, take a nap, and then practice again when everyone else woke up. This guy could break his hand and still show up to practice before everyone else. Look up “John Celestand Kobe broken wrist story” if you don’t believe it.
So what did I do after losing all these games? I tried my best to be Kobe. There was one guy on the team, Will, who also understood. I love him for accompanying me on my Kobe imitation journey. After our first few losses during freshman year, we started practicing every day. We would practice at 3am on the weekends. One of my proudest moments was practicing together until 6am, and having somebody ask us what the fuck we were doing. We were becoming great that’s what.
Every week we got a little bit better. Our jump shots looked more natural. We ran a bit faster. Jumped a bit higher. We still lost every single game for three years, but I knew that eventually our time would come. It had to. We worked too hard for it to not.
After I saw Kobe end his career with 60 points in his final game, I knew I had to finish strong as well. There was absolutely zero chance I was graduating without winning a single game. I had to win, for myself, and for Kobe. And that I did.
I’m sure some of the people around me think it’s weird how much I love Kobe. Maybe you think I’m weird after reading all this. But I don’t care. This man Kobe Bryant is my greatest hero, and will forever be so. He gave me a love for basketball, taught me the the value of work ethic, and showed me the that light will always be at the end of the tunnel if you keep pushing.