Dear Kobe: A Reply…

Kobe

Dear Kobe,

I, like many other basketball fans woke up on Monday morning to some sobering news – news which we all knew was on its way, but like an unwanted commitment never wanted to come. So many players have come before you, but only a minority have transcended the sport just as much as you have. That’s why the news of your retirement was so hard to digest.

Your performances have been something special to watch, whether it was watching you go 9-13 from three against Michael Jordan in 2003 or witnessing one of the greatest performances in sports, by dropping 81 points over 48 minutes (sorry Raptor fans). Simply put, discussions about you being the GOAT have been warranted, although I won’t be drawn into that conversation now.

Kobe vs MJ

This is what made it so hard to watch you labour over the beginning of this season – simply because we’re not used to seeing the Mamba draw air on three point attempts. But let’s face it, it’s not the misses we’re going to remember, it’s not the 1-14 shooting stats – it’s every monster dunk, every clutch three and every ‘how did he make that?’ moment that we’ll all think about when you suit up for the final time against the Utah Jazz on April 13th, fittingly, at the Staples Centre.

A burning desire to win, a fearless attitude in crunch time and an undying love of the game which has brought so many of us together; it’s clear that you’ve impacted so many players, fans and coaches. Kids shooting in the driveway always want to be like Kobe, heck, even grown adults like myself often find ourselves shouting ‘Kobe!’ every time a wry piece of paper needs throwing in the trash. Do you think I’ll be changing that in the next ten years? Don’t count on it.

There are fans all over the world that have come to love the Black Mamba/Lord of the Rings/Mr. 81 for this impact on the game. It’s truly a shame that we won’t be seeing one more magical moment in the Playoffs (bar some miraculous turnaround), but fans across the world will no doubt thank you for all the years of service you’ve put in, even if your final game isn’t vintage Vino.

I'll forget the misses, but I won't forget that 81 point game...

You can rest assured knowing that we’ll be eagerly watching each of these 66 games, soaking in every minute of your greatness – regardless of how apparent it is on the stat sheet. You can expect cheers from every arena you play in for the rest of the year, and rightly so. When you next head abroad, I can personally guarantee that you won’t be able to walk from one side of a basketball court to the other, not because of aches and pains, but because you’ll be mobbed by even more adoring fans than ever before.

They say nobody appreciates art until the artist stops painting, I feel that this will count doubly for yourself. So whilst it might be sad to see you go, it’ll make watching your vintage performances so much sweeter.

Kobe, there’s no way we as fans can thank you enough for what you’ve done for basketball, but we’ll be damned if we’re not going to try…

Thanks for everything,

Luke Hatfield (and probably every other NBA basketball fan on the planet)

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Luke Hatfield is the creator and editor of BouncyOrangeBall, with an extensive knowledge of the NBA and basketball in general.

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