Remembering Kobe Bryant
It’s been a few days since basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash and I am still having trouble processing it.
As far as I can remember, basketball has played a major role in my family life. My brother and I grew up as Boston Celtics fans. Naturally, this meant we hated opposing teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers. Paul Pierce—the captain of the Celtics nearly ten years ago and my favorite retired Celtic—had a known rivalry with Bryant, which made the Celtics vs. Lakers games very dramatic at times.
The Celtics and Lakers rivalry dates further back in National Basketball Association history, starting in the early 1960s and through the 2010 NBA finals series where the Lakers beat the Celtics to win their sixteenth league championship—just one less than the total number of NBA championships the Celtics have. In 2008, the teams met in the finals as well. The Celtics won that series, which is the only Celtics championship victory I have seen in my lifetime. It was a proud day for Boston fans. I recall feeling happy that we had defeated Bryant, whose talent and leadership brought the Lakers five total championships.
Bryant was ruthless on the court. He had this smirk that I still remember. And, while it angered me when he played against the Celtics and very obviously teased Pierce on the court, I could have never imagined he would endure such a painful and sudden death. It hurts even more to think about his young, rising basketball-superstar daughter who also died in the crash.
With every post on social media revolving around Bryant’s death, I read a quote describing how strange it is that the death of someone you do not directly know can affect you so much. It made me think about why this celebrity death mattered more to me than others have; even as a Celtics fan, I can understand and empathize with what Lakers fans must be going through right now. An accident of this nature makes you feel empty in a way that can’t be described.
So, thank you, Kobe, for making basketball more exciting. Thank you for bringing your “Mamba Mentality” to the NBA, and for spreading the love of the game even after you retired. The world is mourning your death, and you will not be forgotten.