Kobe Bryant: A Final Farewell From a Fan


From the first time I picked up a basketball, I have loved this game. Playing pick up basketball with my brother and friends, there was always one person I idolized above them all. The one and only, Kobe Bean Bryant. Number 8, Number 24, Fro-be, The Black Mamba. I remember the first time I saw you play, I knew you were gonna be special. The year was 2001, you were playing the Philadelphia 76ers in the finals, I was a nine year old kid watching in amazement. Being from Delaware, most people around me are Sixers fans, since we are so close to Philadelphia. But you made me fall in love with the Purple and Gold. The way you and Shaq absolutely dominated your opponents, I couldn’t help but wanna be just like you. You have given not only us Lakers fans countless memories, but anybody who watched you go to work. I still to this day try to duplicate that post fadeaway and always want the ball in my hands when we need a bucket to stay in the game.

After your first three peat, you gained legendary status in the basketball world at the age of 23. Kids including myself were yelling your name as they shot paper balls into trash cans, “KOBE!”. You went through trials and tribulations, being scrutinized by the media for being a “selfish” player, crucified for the departure of Shaq, yet you still gave it everything you had when then lights came on. Shaq left and you became the face of the franchise. For years you dominated the league, you were unstoppable, unguardable. January 22nd, 2006. The performance of a lifetime, the single greatest individual game this generation has ever seen. 81 points, EIGHTY-ONE POINTS. I still watch that game online to this day and can’t believe the shots keep falling, even though I already know the outcome. You carried a mediocre roster to the playoffs, Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudamire killed us man. 2008, MVP! MVP! MVP! We loved chanting that when you shot them free throws and in the end you earned that trophy. The Finals came, you finally got to face our franchise’s greatest rivals, The Boston Celtics.

You gave them hell, they would get the last laugh this time. I remember seeing the anger on your face in the press conference after game 6. You would do anything to get back to that top spot, you wanted that 4th ring. Next year, Madison Square Garden would feel the wrath of the Black Mamba, setting the record for most points scored in that arena at the time with 61 points. Fast forward to the Finals, this time you went against the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard. No Shaq, no Big Shot Bob, you brought that trophy back where it belongs and got the Finals MVP. Again in 2010, you wouldn’t let anyone get in your way to go get another one. This time, you’d get your rematch with those damned Celtics. No matter what KG, Ray, Rondo or Pierce did, you weren’t gonna miss your chance at revenge. You wanted to finish it in Boston, but going a full 7 and winning it at home is just as good. You wouldn’t hold anything back, you let them know it was special to get one at their expense. Another ring, another step closer to Mike. You wanted six and we wanted it for you just as bad. Unfortunately, this would be your last finals appearance.

April 12th, 2013, everything would change. You were pushing yourself, trying to get into the playoffs to go get number six. I remember watching the play, “Bryant again going to work, falls down.” You got back up, torn Achilles and all, you made those free throws and walked off on your own strength. Tears in your eyes, you knew you were gonna have to work harder than you ever had before to get back to what you had always been, an assassin on the court. But that wasn’t a problem, you looked forward to the challenge. These last few years have been hard to watch as a Kobe Bryant fan. Injuries have plagued you like a sickness, but you continued to come back despite the pain. Now in the year 2016, your twentieth year in the NBA, you have decided to call it a career and hang up those Nike’s. I was there in Philly for your first game after the announcement of your plans to retire after this season. I got chills as they called your name for the final time in your home town, tears welling up in my eyes. It was my first and last time seeing you in that Laker uniform you made me love. That place went crazy, chanting as loud as we could “KOBE! KOBE! KOBE!” with a few MVP chants thrown in every now and then. A farewell tour to remember, teams all around the league have honored you as you passed through their city one last time. Now today, April 13th, almost 3 years to the day of that horrible injury, comes the final farewell of them all. You put on a performance every night, so those people who paid to see you got their money’s worth, whether they were rooting for you or against you. You may not have gotten that sixth ring to tie him, but you are my Michael Jordan. The Greatest of All Time in my eyes. The greatest Laker ever. Thank you for everything you have done for the league, and I hope your life after basketball is just as great as it was during. Signed, A Die Hard Kobe Bryant Fan. (P.S. Thank you Charlotte, we owe you one big time.)

About Emanuel Godina

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