Kobe Just Might Have Made His Most Important Play
By Lenn Robbins
It’s taken two days to see.
Since the first alert on my phone Sunday morning stating the unfathomable had happened – Kobe Bryant, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven other human beings – taken from us in the blink of a text, we’ve been blinded by grief and uncertainty.
The Lakers-Clippers game was canceled last night, as it should have been. But when do the Lakers return to the court in spirit as well as body? A week? A month? A season?
Prior to the tipoff of Monday night’s prep game between Friends Seminary and Packer Collegiate Institute, the rivals huddled at midcourt, arms around each other’s shoulders, as a 24-second shot clock ‘violation’ counted down.
Generations of Americans are hurting.
There are memorials at Staples Center and the House of Kobe Gym in the Philippines and Lower Merion High School outside of Philadelphia and Mamba Sports Academy, and Reggio Emilia in Italy and the Bryant Park subway stationed unofficially renamed Kobe Bryant Park.
(Memo to City: Don’t change that).
Should everything go back to the way it was before Kobe died or should it never be the same?
Does a reporter continue to write about Kobe or the suddenly surprising Knicks or disappointing Nets?
How do we evaluate any NBA team going forward when so many players lost a friend, idol, mentor, role model, former teammate or opponent?
How can we attend a Super Bowl party on Sunday, cheer and laugh, when four families are in the soul-numbing process of planning a funeral they never expected to plan so soon?
How do we go to church or temple this weekend knowing that Bryant and his daughter reportedly attended Mass Sunday morning at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, just hours before they died?
A parishioner there, Julie Hermes, told NBC-LA that she recalled watching Kobe with his four daughters after Mass one day.
“He was showering them with cupcakes, and he put them in car seats and buckled them in so carefully,” Hermes said.
That’s what love looks like. And this is Kobe’s last and possibly greatest legacy.
We’ve see men, seemingly the most manly among us, publicly showing their emotions in tears and tributes. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Spencer Dinwiddie crying. Barack Obama, also a father of daughters, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, expressing their sadness.
“[He was] and a leader in a lot of ways,” Abdul-Jabbar said on social media. “He inspired a whole generation of young athletes.”
Imagine that. A whole generation of young athletes seeing Kobe memorialized as a father and husband more than a player. A whole generation of young athletes overtly and covertly getting the message that there is more to life than a ball or a puck. A whole generation of young athletes seeing men that express their emotions as strong and sensitive.
Imagine this: In death, Kobe has made his most important play.