Kobe Bryant – The loss of a champion

“who’s this cocky kid who wants to be like Jordan?”

This was my first thought when I first saw kobe play.

Jordan was my idol. He was the one that set the standard. Now this kid comes along copying his every move.

Put him in his place MJ!

But kobe was tenacious!

He wasn’t backing down!

If anything he was getting better and he was seemingly doing anything possible to be the best!

He teamed up with Shaq and won three NBA titles before their relationship turned sour.

Kobe went on to win two more without the big fella.

Just before I carry on I have to remind myself to be mindful…

Being mindful, this blog could easily turn into an MJ / Kobe comparison, I remind myself to focus on the purpose of this post which is to celebrate kobe after learning of his tragic death just yesterday. There have been plenty of comparisons and now isn’t the time.

I never met kobe but at the 2012 Olympics in London I was privileged to be sitting courtside as a Games Maker, absorbing his aura and watching his every move in the final versus Spain.

I analysed and watched intently as he weaved, cut, jumped and shot and helped his team to the gold medal.

There were moments, I appreciated like his uncanny ability to know what to do just at the right time.

He knew when he had to control that moment and give his team the best chance of winning.

It was this emotional intelligence that set him aside from others. It was this I came to respect.

I watched his final game on TV, the kobe show, and saw how much love he had from within the basketball community.

His competitive nature was on full view as he willed his team to victory with 60 points.

In retirement he won a Oscar for his animated short film, Dear Basketball, showing he was much more than a player.

He was engaging in the community and giving back to the game. 
He was embracing retirement from playing.

Then it happened

Not only has the game lost an ambassador for the game of basketball, but the world has a lost a decent human being. His 13 year old daughter was with him at the time and I can only hope they embraced with a deep love and understanding at the moment.

What now?

I’m still trying to come to terms with this loss and how it affects me as a person, as a player, a coach, a father…

The world still moves, basketball will still be played and there will be much love poured from the souls of those who knew of kobe.

His legacy firmly established in the basketball community, we all have our memories of this amazing player and person.

He was a true champion in the strongest sense of the word.

My head is full of swirling images and mini movies of his past. My inner voice is asking lots of questions I can’t possibly answer and my stomach has a knot that aches and this, about 24 hours after the event, is how I deal with the loss.

I can’t bring myself to watch highlights of his stellar career yet because it feels too soon, yet I do know the time will come when I allow myself to enjoy the moments this champion brought to us all.

Rest In Peace Black Mamba. 

By Mike Nichols

when the person thrives, the professional thrives

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