Jhaidyn Brown, Contributing Writer
The greatest to ever do it? That question seems somewhat unreal to ask now with this passing 5x NBA champion, 18x NBA All-Star, 2008 NBA’s Most Valuable Player, and 2x NBA finals MVP, as Kobe Bryant has solidified his position as the greatest.
Not only was Kobe an impeccable basketball player, he was also a great mentor, a great husband, and a great father. He had 4 kids, 1 of them, Gianna, passed away with him. The world was devastated and heartbroken over this news. I don’t think I’ll ever forget finding out the day he passed. I didn’t think it was real, my exact words being “this can’t be true, there’s no way” as I’m sure plenty of others said.
Kobe’s impact touched a lot more people than just NBA players. You had kids in the Philippines decorate basketball courts after him and kids in China make murals in his honor. If that doesn’t show you the impact he had then I don’t know what will. The same day he passed the NBA held games that most people thought should be canceled in his honor, but that didn’t happen. These games were heartfelt games; you could see the pain in the athletes’ eyes pregame, and you could see the disbelief. All the games played that week honored him in some way, shape, or form. One way was taking 24 second shot clock violations in light of Kobe being number 24, and another way was playing unbelievable games, putting up Kobe-like numbers which Trae Young did and dedicating it to his passing.
It was deeper than basketball for Kobe and you could see that in the way he carried himself and the way he talked about things. For him it was about being the best you can be at anything you set your mind to and not letting anyone or anything derail you from your dreams, that so-called “Mamba mentality.” That’s what impacted me the most and I don’t even play basketball. Kobe’s mentality carried me a long way. I asked one of my friends that goes to school here at McKendree, “How did Kobe impact you?” His answer simply was “In every way.” He continued to say “Kobe was my idol. I grew up a die hard Laker fan, nobody could tell me anything about the Lakers. I bled purple and gold. Kobe inspired me to play basketball growing up. I played all throughout middle school and high school with my number being 24. I had dreams of being Kobe; who didn’t?”
I then went on to ask some basketball players what impact Kobe had on them. One person stated “I don’t think I would be playing basketball if it wasn’t for Kobe. Growing up watching basketball I always thought it was cool but seeing him play made me want to be like him so I started playing. He made basketball so much more than basketball, in a sense, and I wanted that level he was on so I shaped my game in ways that I saw him and by the grace of God I made it this far.”
I don’t think you can find a person in America who doesn’t know who Kobe Bryant is and that says a lot more than you think. His legacy will live forever, not just in the sport world but in the worlds of leadership, hard work, entrepreneurship, and dedication. Throwing paper balls in the trash will never be the same anymore, so thank you Kobe. Thank you for all the game winning shots, the losses, the championships and your mentality that touched a lot more people than you know. As you would say, “Mamba out.”