Mamba Out

Kobe Bean Bryant

A few minutes ago, I opened a new Chrome tab and typed "kobe bryant career stats". In an empty notepad, I began to type some of his career statistics. I then opened another tab to google "kobe bryant", knowing it would take me to his Wiki page where I could confirm a few things about his life and career.

As I started compiling my notes into a coherent thought, I realized, that's not the article I want to write. You can read that anywhere. Quite frankly, as much as those things mattered while he was here, they seem insignificant today.

If you want to read about Kobe Bryant's career accolades, his life, or his untimely passing, I'll need to redirect you to your own google search. You won't find any of that here.

"Kobe!". This is what my generation yelled anytime something was thrown in an arch at anything else. From shooting hoops on the blacktop on a hot summer day to tossing a balled up paper into a trash can in front of friends. Shouting "Kobe" meant something. If you made it, you got props from those watching (especially if an impromptu defender failed to block your shot). If you missed it, you heard it.

Kobe was my generation's Jordan the same way this generation has LeBron. Kobe was special. He was unrelenting on the court, but all smiles off of it. Kobe Bryant gave it his all every single time he held a basketball.

I didn't want to be like Mike. I wanted to be Kobe. The swagger, the intensity, the charisma, the skills. Kobe was a living legend in his prime. As far as I was concerned, I was watching the best player to ever do it. I didn't think about those guys that came before him. They were from a different era. They played in black and white. Kobe was 3-D and in living color.

I remember sitting on the carpet on Sunday mornings to play Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside on my N64. After a few games, my dad would sometimes sit on the couch next to me and join me for a couple of games. I always picked the Lakers. He bounced around between teams. He often picked the Pacers so that he can shoot exclusively threes with Reggie Miller.

We were both Shaq fans. Wherever Shaq fans, that's where our attention went. To this day, I can't say I've ever supported any one basketball team. I love the sport and its players.

Kobe was one of those players.

I tried to emulate him on the courts. I watched every game so that I could discuss the highlights with my friends the next day in class and pull off a well-timed Kobe while the girls watched.

As the years passed, the pick-up games became more frequent, more serious. They felt...important. Going out to ball felt like a responsibility that I was happy to do. In the summer, I grabbed my ball, got in my '99 Daewoo Leganza, and picked up my cousin and friends (Baby Shaq, X, and Danny, sometimes D.). We traveled from court-to-court, taking on any challengers.

There was nothing special about us. None of us were 6' tall. No one had basketball in their genes or money to go to a camp. We weren't even on the school team. We were just a bunch of kids from Jersey that liked to ball. But man, were we hard to beat.

Everyone you played in those days was. We all had that Mamba Mentality. To me, Mamba Mentality meant 'if you're going to do something, do it right. If not leave it alone and someone will'.

Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of basketball players, but he was bigger than basketball. The world lost a legend. His family lost more.

Rest in peace to the victims who tragically lost their lives in Sunday's tragedy.

Kobe Bryant
Gianna Bryant
John Altobelli
Keri Altobelli
Alyssa Altobelli
Sarah Chester
Payton Chester
Christina Mauser
Ara Zobayan