With every dribble, with every pump fake,with every jump shot, with every fade away. With every leg work, with every behind the back pass, with every shot fake, with every driving to the rim. With every biting of your Jersey, with every clinching of your teeth, with every post up, with every dunk, you captivated me. I remember distinctively watching my first Lakers game and Rick Foxx made a clutch shot from the side wing and it was that one shot that grabbed my attention and made me become a Lakers fan, the ball movement before the shot was quite extraordinary as well. However, It was you, Kobe Bryant, that got me excited and caused me to love the game of basketball. No, not Jordan. My dad was a big Jordan fan, I can remember him yelling at the TV cheering him on as if Jordan could really hear him. He was most impressed by Jordan’s fade away shot, after all, at the time he was the only one doing it and he perfected it. Who would have thought that me, a kid growing up in Jamaica who knew nothing about basketball at one point as soccer was my first love. Would find myself in the same position my dad was in. Yelling at the TV saying “KOBEEEEEE” as I still do to this day.When you get the ball, I get excited. When you post up your opponent, I know what’s coming. When you pump fake and draw the foul, I smile and say “it gets them every time.” When you pull up for a shot, I watch in awe. When you fade away, I lift my hands with delight. When you do your magical footwork and destroy the defense, I say “nasty”. When you dunk on the rim, I go crazy. When you beat the buzzer, I lose my mind. Everything you do to me it was just pure entertainment. I enjoyed every moment of it. One of my friend used to say I was more like Shaq but, in my mind I was Kobe. I wanted to be like you, wanted to shoot like you, wanted to fade away like you. Wanted to fake to the right, then go to the left like you. People hated you, people loved you some people even hated that they loved you. No amount of “boos” could throw you off your game and the same people that would boo, would cheer for you just the same. Over the years of watching you I’ve developed the “Kobe mentality” or better yet the “Mamba mentality.” I watched how at the most trying times and what seem to be impossible you would take the team on your shoulders and propelled them to a win. It was the moments where you would stop playing…..and your killer instinct would kick in. It was the moments where you were just more than playing…you were dominating even if that meant hurting the feelings of some of your teammates. No matter what it took, you were gonna get the job done. I myself has adapted such mentality in whatever I do. Whether I’m preparing for a meeting, whether I was writing, whether I had to take a test, or even when I’m playing a pick up game with some of my friends. There always comes that moment where it’s “Kobe time.” Picture this as if it’s Mario and he just ate the mushroom….yea I know, unstoppable. My most memorable moment of you? I have way too many. Too many times you have granted me the authority to talk the most shiii to my friends that weren’t so fund of you. You’re the Man, You’re the Myth, You’re the Hero, You’re the Villain, You’re the Legend. The one that will never be forgotten. The one that will always be looked up to. The one that will always be compared to…..even with players who are nowhere close to your caliber, just disrespectful. But, you’re also the one they strive to be like.
I fell in love with #8. I learned a lot from #24. You evolved as I grew older and I watched and enjoyed it. You went from young stunning star, to the Legend that will never fade. I’ve had the privilege of chanting your name while watching you play. Those were two of the most amazing times in my life, easily. Here I am, a whole hour before you play your final game in the NBA. The last time you will ever suit up in the Purple and Gold. The last time I will ever get to see you do your jab step, the last time I will ever get to see you pull up from the baseline…….for years I’ve been dreading this time. I put it to the back of mind that one day the man that I’ve looked up to, defended when people said you were average, cheered for, tried to play like when on the court, the person’s mentality I adapted in every aspect of my life would one day have to see him walk off the court and never return. You electrified us with every dribble, amazed us with every fade away. Excited us with every buzzer beater. For 20 years of your life you gave us everything we ever asked for plus more. You said it best the game asked for your hustler and you gave it you heart. We, the fans asked for a show and you gave us that and lessons. For 20 years you sacrificed so we can have something to remember. It was you. You showed what dedication was and what passion felt like. Your drive was like no other. Your abilities are matchless. People can say what they want to say, they can compare you to whoever they want. But the facts are whoever else the media has called the best in the game it’s because of YOU!! It was you who’s work ethic forced them to try to be better. You pushed them to be great simply because they wanted to be respected by you. You made them put in countless amount of hours in training because they wanted their names to be mentioned with yours. Whether you were wearing #8 or #24 it was YOU!! So with that said Kobe, I Thank you. You might never see this but it’s coming from my heart. THANK YOU for everything!! You will always be “Mr.clutch”, “Mamba”, “Bean”, “Vino” and to me you will always be THE WARRIOR THAT NEVER DIED!!