Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#MambaDay: Waving Farewell to a Sports Legend

Anyone who even partially knows me can easily pick up on how much love and respect I have for Kobe Bryant and the entire Los Angeles Lakers franchise. For someone who has followed his career from the 1996 draft to his retirement in 2016, it hasn't really set in that he won't be running up and down the court with the Los Angeles Lakers anymore.  It's heartbreaking to know that the Black Mamba is about to hang up his jersey and say his final goodbye to the game he loves so dearly. As the world celebrates a legend, his accolades, and what he's done for the sport of itself, there's so many areas where fans like me are recognizing that it's more than just the over-glorification of one man, it's more than just a game; it's simply the respectability principle of giving credit where credit is due.

Image source.

Resilience

Taking the time to hone this God given talent is one of the things that propelled his career forward, but not giving up is what caused him to forever hold the title of being one of the greatest NBA players of all time. We all know numbers don't lie {averaging out 25 PPG, 4.7 APG, 5 time NBA champion, 18 NBA All-star appearances, etc.}, but if we take a closer look at the process, the build up, the work, effort, the constant comparison to players that came before him, and time it took to establish those numbers, the scoreboard wouldn't be the only thing we noticed. We would see the public scrutiny, the obstacles, the relationships, the allegations, the ups and downs of being loved one minute and hated the next, and you could bet that there is still at least one person per mention of his name to remind the world of his shortcomings. However, none of these things-not even suffering through physical injuries- ever had the power to take his head out of the game. In many instances, I felt like basketball really was his saving grace and not everyone is granted with that opportunity.

Image source: NBA.com.

Dedication

People who hate him as a person and/or athlete fail to realize that Mr. Bryant has literally spent his entire life dedicated to the one thing that he loved the most, which is obviously basketball. He didn't just play the game, he studied it like a third language. Fortunately, he had a father who played professionally, as well as family support were he was raised in a suitable environment that would encourage and cultivate his gift and his passion early on. His support system was one of the leading reasons which allowed him to enter the wonderful world of pro-ball at the tender age of 17. It's quite common for  people to discredit people who had those kinds of opportunities, assuming everything came easy for him, but all the support in the world would be invalid without a strong work ethic, self-motivation, and eagerness to earn a place among the stars to eventually create a dynasty of his own that will be celebrated forever.

Image source: ChatSports.com.

Transformation

It has been interesting to see how he's evolved over the course of his career. He played every position possible-and I don't mean in terms of player positions-that has levitated him to a new height some how. Here we have America's sweetheart, who started his rookie career with a bang and was "the man" only one season in.  Just like everyone saw his potential, he saw it too. His ego was a downfall of his, but it was also a power tool that gave him a competitive edge at all times. Just like a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, over time, he became way more graceful, has made exceptional progress athletically, and the mistakes that transpired only pushed him to become way more humble than he used to be, yet still cocky enough to keep the game interesting and to occasionally remind those who needed it how many championships rings he's earned in a heartbeat.

Image source: BasketballForever.com

Farewell, Mr. Bryant

As we say our final goodbyes to the legendary Kobe Bean Bryant in his final game tonight against the Utah Jazz, it's only right to celebrate his life and his legacy on the court by being apart of this historical moment in time. Although it's hard to imagine basketball without the one and only Kobe Bryant, I understand that all good things must come to an end. He's given his absolute best to this game and his team for the past 20 years and that's all any fan of any team can ask from the athletes they admire. For me, it's not about expecting our cherished celebrities to be perfect, but instead taking all the negatives and turning it all around in the most positive and lucrative way imaginable by going after dreams and giving one dream all we have in order to be successful.

Thank you, Kobe

Follow me on Twitter: @TheSkyBoxSuite | @ChymereA

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