Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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HomeSports and GamesBasketballMamba out but not forgotten

Mamba out but not forgotten

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“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”

Wise words from my idol Kobe Bryant.

Truth be told, Kobe was more than just basketball.

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He was a philanthropist, an entrepreneur, a writer, a producer and a CEO. And take note he didn’t even go to college!

I woke up late in the morning, looked for my phone to scroll a bit before brushing my teeth and take a shower. Upon opening my Facebook feed, everyone’s changing their profile pictures of Kobe, long messages and an article pop up saying Kobe was killed in an accident.

"Kobe Bryant CC" by Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Kobe Bryant CC” by Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

My sister texted me with only with word, “condolence”. How I wish I could just go back to sleep and wake up again and imagine that it was just a bad dream. That is how much Kobe Bryant mean to me.

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I was varsity player when I was in lower grade dreaming of one day, play with or against him. I didn’t grow up the way I wanted, diagnosed with mild scoliosis when I was in 8th grade.

All my dreams shattered. To find a way to somehow meet him and share the court with him even though I wasn’t playing, I aspire to become a sports journalist and enrolled as a Mass Communication major in Broadcasting.

Through this I could interview him, see him face to face; we will have our own handshake. I will take his photos with my name as watermark in every one of then. Who knows, we will get in touch, hangout just like any other sports journalist who were able to build a great relationship with other players.

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Just like Ahmad Rashad and Michael Jordan or Carlo Pamintuan when he was covering the 2014 FIBA world cup with Gilas Pilipinas.

I remember when my classmates would tease me every single time, bully me and saying that he’s a ballhog or he doesn’t pass the ball, “Buaya man na si Kobe, indi kabalo mamasa”.

I remember when my teammates would say that he only cares about his scores in every game. I remember when I argued with my teacher when I was in 6th grade of the Kobe vs Lebron conversations. I remember when even my own father or uncle telling me he was are already old, “Ah si Kobe, laos na ina”.

I remember when he was on the last couple of years in the league and he was hampered with injuries and the Lakers cannot reach the playoffs.

I defended him just like how he lifted the Most Defensive Player of the Year trophy multiple times.

I would skip classes or be absent in his significant games just to watch him play.

“Ma gasakit ulo ko”, “ma gasakit tyan ko”, “ma galain matyag ko”.

The last time it happened, was during his last game where scored 60 points.

Without bias and kidding aside, I really believe that something was going to happen during that game after Shaquille O’Neal and other players challenged him to go for 50.

I would purposely go with bald haircuts from time to time just to look the same way as he did, even though I knew the style doesn’t look good on me.

I also have that surreal feeling when my friends call me Kobe or “Kobesaya” not because I play like him but because they know how much I admire him. I even named my dog after him. Playing on the court every night alone, counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, imagining myself shooting at the buzzer or game winner the same way as he did. It was just one of the things I did to mimic him. Shooting trash in garbage bins and shouting Kobe will never be the same way again.

The whole world was deeply saddened right now. The likes of Neymar, Barack Obama, Taylor Swift, Serena Williams, Manny Pacquiao and everyone else outside of basketball world sent their sympathy.

It just shows how much Kobe Bryant impacted in everyone’s lives. People suggesting that the NBA logo needs to be changed with his own silhouette, friends, classmates, teachers wearing his jersey today.

I even bought a shirt of him the moment the news broke out and I’m planning to wear it sometime this week. Messages, old pictures, highlight videos were scattered everywhere in the net.

But I guess, the best tribute we can give was to live our life in our own Kobe way.

“If you’re afraid to fail then you’re probably going to file.”

The hustle, the grit and grind, the dedication, the commitment, and the perseverance, all those values that he showed to the game of basketball and can be applied in our everyday life.

I learned this from him. The moment he lifted the Most Valuable Player trophy, he taught me to value things big or small.

The moment he captured every championship he had also taught me to be champion in life.

Such is the legacy of Kobe in my life.

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Ian Zane T. Esparaga
Ian Zane T. Esparaga
Uni student. Kobe Bryant die-hard fan. Sports buff. Photo journalist. Budding sports writer.
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