The Power of Legacy
I would consider myself to be a casual/semi-invested basketball fan. But you don’t need to follow the game to know the name Kobe Bryant. One of the most decorated players of all time, his name is often mentioned in tandem with other greats of the modern game; namely Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Kobe Bryant’s tragic death from a helicopter accident on the 26th of January shocked the world. For him to pass at such a young age, having only retired recently (in 2016), really showed people that life is precious and should never be taken for granted.
Kobe was “the guy” in the NBA. Throughout the ‘00s and even during his twilight years in the ’10s his performances were often unmatched by his peers. He seamlessly took the reigns from Michael Jordan and carried on from where he left off; propelling himself into superstardom. You won’t find a basketball court nor office building where someone won’t exclaim “Kobe!” before shooting into an awaiting basket/waste bin.
The audacity of the man and the talent he possessed captured the hearts of millions. I’d argue that every fan has their own “Kobe memory”. Whether it be one of his 36 game winning shots or his monumental 81 point outing against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, there was never a question of entertainment when you watched Kobe in the purple and gold.
He strived for greatness. He was the embodiment of hard work, despite having otherworldly talent already. Of the 30,699 shots he attempted in his career, he missed 14,481- the greatest amount recorded by a single player. That doesn’t include the countless hours he put into practice whilst honing his craft. It goes to show that, to be truly great, complacency is not an option.
He developed his alter ego “The Black Mamba” after watching Kill Bill; identifying with the creature’s agility and aggressiveness. This tenacity and propensity for hard work has lead to countless people attributing him as their reason for playing basketball. They modeled their game after him. Idolised him. The development of the “Mamba Mentality” was not a organised movement, but a product of years of hard graft. One that resonated with the athlete in all of us.
Kobe placed himself on a pedestal, whether intentional or not. He was the standard, he set the bar. Scores of children (some of which would go on to become stars of their own) emulated his game, recreated his most famous moments, attempted some of his awe-inspiring moves.
Safe to say, he left his mark on a generation.
He taught us the merits of hard work and commitment to your craft. He demonstrated a winning mentality. What it takes and what you must sacrifice in order to be a champion. He opened up the sport of basketball to many as well as heavily supported women’s basketball following the budding talent of his daughter Gianna, who also tragically lost her life in the same accident.
It is a well known that, whilst morbid, tragedy brings people together. This combined with the power of celebrity lead thousands, if not millions, to flock to the streets or online in commemoration of their lost star.
The death of one of present day’s sporting icons has had a resounding effect on the general population. Lost friendships have been rekindled, tributes have turned strangers into friends, loved ones are squeezed just a little bit tighter.
Kobe recognised the importance of leaving a mark on the world. In an interview with Lewis Howes, Bryant defined greatness as:
“[the ability to] inspire the people next to you… it’s not something that lives and dies with one person.” He goes on to say: “I think that’s our challenge as people is to figure out how our story inspires other and motivates them in a way to create their own greatness”
Ultimately, I think what is happening now is what Bryant would have wanted. For people to grow together and push one another. Often, the first step overcoming failure is to recognise you have the ability to do so; and to realise that you need a good supporting cast around you.
Unconsciously, I have taken forward a few things as well:
1. You have to be relentless in the pursuit of your goals
2. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work
3. Nothing in this life is ever given to you, it must be earned
I can only hope to implement these practices into my daily life half as well as he did. Thank you Kobe.