The passing of Kobe Bryant has sent my mind on quite a ride. As a teenager, I didn’t like Kobe. It was little to do with actual sports and everything to do with who I thought he was. I had the mentality of “Who is dude?” “He has yet to do anything great but he demanding to play for the Lakers!?” “And they about to honor that!?!?! HELL NAW!!!”
I would spend the rest of my teen years and early 20’s loathing Kobe Bryant. I was anything but a fan. I made jokes and was ready to slander at any given chance just because. I sit here a grown man and realizing how foolish I was to do that. Not because he is no longer with us, but because I have grown much like he had. My life experiences changed me and my approach to life has changed. Wildly enough, I can pinpoint the time when I turned the corner on my disdain for Kobe.
It started with Steve Nash winning back to back MVP’s. I liked Nash, but it was no doubt in my mind that Kobe was better than him. I had no clue how the NBA saw otherwise especially when I wasn’t anything near a fan or supporter of Kobe. Steve Nash won the MVP in 2005-2006. The season I recognize as “The greatest offensive season I’ve ever seen from one player”. That season, we watched Kobe frequently score 40 and 50 point games. Sometimes scoring 60 or more within 3 quarters. It’s also the season he scored 81. And the reason why it was the greatest to me? Because a lot of those teams the Lakers blew off the court. Kobe was all time great at both ends of the floor and basketball looked unfair when he played that year and the year after. It was truly amazing and even with no love in my heart for him, I had to respect him.
Time passes and I eventually turn 27-28. To be honest, I had no clue of what to do with my life and never really made plans. I had realized that I wandered aimlessly for a decade. I did things. I was good at a lot, but I had no real path to happiness or greatness. A switch flipped in me and I really wanted more. I wanted to be great. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be admired for my accomplishments. I knew I had greater purpose, but wasn’t really sure how to get there or what that purpose really was. It was during those times, I began to understand the level of greatness I and many people around me hated in real time.
Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather, Kobe Bryant. Some of the names synonymous with Greatness and Hate. I never hated Ali, I just thought you could argue he’s not the greatest. Being from Illinois, I should have been a bigger Jordan fan in real time. Tom Brady, I never hated, but then again, I didn’t begin to pay attention to him until 2006-2007. Floyd Mayweather, I still don’t “like” as a person, but I have a respect for his craft and dedication to it. Kobe rebuilt and solidified himself with the change from 8 to 24 and got my attention.
Kobe Bryant became a person I truly began to admire because he made me fall in love with having a winning mindset. The “Mamba Mentality” became inspiring to me, but I had to change and want more out of life to understand it. When I was 15 to 25, I had no knowledge of self or purpose. I had no clue who to be and why. I didn’t really have a “role model” I just saw certain things and people I would want to be. I had no real idea of what it meant to put in hard work to achieve something and marvel at the accomplishment. Looking back, it’s very easy to see why I didn’t recognize or appreciate certain levels of greatness. I had no idea what it was like to be great myself.
Now, I’m in my 30’s and I regret how I have wasted time. My lack of direction has given me anxiety about the future because I feel I could have accomplished more if I made real plans and real goals. I now relate to wanting to win bad and wanting to win often. I don’t like to hear excuses. I get extremely agitated when I hear can’t or won’t. It’s hard to respect those that don’t at least try to create solutions. If I had that in my mind at 15, who knows where I’d be. But even at 27-28, I was still strapped with plenty of time. Kobe did a lot of great and amazing things and unfortunately his life was cut extremely short. I don’t know him personally, but I doubt that he left this earth with any regrets. That’s something I want to have when I leave this life. Accomplishments and no regrets.
I want to work hard, play hard, accomplish all I can and leave it all on the floor with absolutely nothing on the table. I look at what people like Kobe and Nispey Hussle created in their short time here and feel in my soul I can do it too! I’m in between both their ages. I have the same 24 hours. I can focus, work, elevate and manifest the life that my mind holds. I just have to spend everyday trying to unlock it.
Kobe Bryant; Thank you. Thank you for being a symbol of consistent greatness and excellence. Thank you for showing me what it really takes to win. That you for helping me realize what a small mind is and how greatness is truly internal and is only criticized by the unfocused, misdirected and weak. That you for wanting your life to be polarizing, because it was the ultimate testament to anybody that truly wants to be great at anything. I hate the fact I am sharing these words in your demise, but I will always cite your legacy as a way I want to live.
Rest Easy Mamba.