On the morning of January 27 here in Sydney, just after 6am, time stood still for what felt like an eternity.
The Today Show was on as I was having some breakfast when I saw “Breaking News KOBE BRYANT DEAD”. I thought I was just having a bad dream, so I just shook it off as if it was all fake.
Seconds later though, my phone was blowing up with tweets about you. The Black Mamba Kobe Bryant was tragically killed.
It was true. It wasn’t a bad dream.
I grew up idolising you, like many others. So the news of you passing in such horrific fashion in a helicopter crash, along with several others, just wasn’t sitting with me.
Further news began to break now that your daughter Gigi was on board with you.
That’s when it finally hit me like a tonne of bricks.
I was broken. I still am.
You were doing what you loved most. Spending time with your daughter and taking her to another basketball tournament, no doubt continuing to watch her blossom into what would’ve been one of the greatest Women’s Basketball careers ever.
Life simply isn’t fair.
I’ve struggled to put this into words for so long now, because this still doesn’t feel real.
Watching Vanessa today though, has given me the strength to put something together to honour you. She truly is the Queen Mamba!
There’s too many memories of you to fit all in one post, but here are those that’ll stick with me forever:
- 2006. My very first Lakers game. While the rest of my High School mates were off on schoolies, I decided to make the trip abroad for the first time with one of my best mates. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face walking into Staples watching you go toe to toe with the New Jersey Nets, and grab a W along the way.
- 2006. That very same trip, I was lucky enough to watch the Lakers in a 3 game home stand. Win, Loss, Win. The 3rd is forever entrenched in my memory bank. You dropped 50 on the Utah Jazz, and being able to chant MVP in November was something else!
- 2012. London Olympics. I was able to catch Team USA twice, the second time around against Australia in the Qtr Finals. We gave them everything we had that night, but watching you open the game up in the back end of the third could only make me shake my head and marvel at your brilliance.
- 81 Point Game. Lakers v Raptors. My brother and I watched this one together given he’s a long time Raptors tragic, and we both sat there and couldn’t believe what was going on. Watching you torch poor Jalen Rose was nothing short of amazing, and continued to show why you’re always in the same breath as MJ.
- NBA Championships. If I had to pick a favourite of the three peat and the Pau era, I’d have to go with the first of the 3 peat over Indiana, and the game 7 v Boston. Two incredibly gruelling series, and to see the joy at the end of your first, and what was soon to be your last championship, brings a tear to the eye.
- Your Finale. 60 points. It didn’t start pretty, but your career was already a movie, it wasn’t going to end badly. That last qtr performance was something no basketball fan will ever forget. Because even if you weren’t a Lakers fan, watching you on your last legs pull that W out, dropping 60 Points. No words.
There wasn’t a dry eye in that Staples Center building today, a house that you built, and to see the amount of NBA and WNBA talent on display, showed how many lives you touched, along with your little Mambacita Gianna.
Heroes come and go, but legends last forever.
I’ll Miss you Kobe.