Kobe: The Basketball superstar I Love to Hate

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Monday morning, January 27, 2020, is, as usual, a tough grind. With the willies of the weekend pulling shut my eyelids and my senses still in Jupiter, I opt to add few more hours to my usual day start. However, my firstborn, Ojharra Catherine, suddenly interrupted my dilly-dally in dreamland when she barges into our room – half shouting, half hysteric.

“Daddy wake up! Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash. It’s all over the news. Bobby (Nalzaro) is airing a CNN broadcast right now,” she exclaimed and nearly in tears! (My wife Charmaine tuned in to DYSS every morning, except Sundays of course, because she’s an avid fan of Boss Bobby Nalzaro. She even prefers to listen to Boss Bobby even if I am on board at DYCM from 9 AM to 11 AM on Saturdays. Sigh).

Lazily I told Ojharra OK. And tried to get back to sleep. Actually, I could not comprehend what she said at that moment. My brain froze! Was I dreaming? I couldn’t believe what she said! How can Kobe be dead when he is just 41! And his daughter Gianna is just 13! Somnolence was still lingering in my head, but the severity of the news was like a shot of an Espresso. So I idly reached for my cell phone at the bedside drawer and opened my Facebook. There, the news on Kobe’s death flooded my wall.

There was a video press statement of the Fire Marshall and the County Sherriff confirming of a helicopter crash in a secluded place in Calabasas county. The crash created a grass fire that was accordingly hard to extinguish because of the terrain and all. Witness accounts validated that Kobe and his daughter Gianna, and seven other people were on board.

Confirmed! KOBE IS DEAD.

And for that I hate him!

I hate him because he left the world mourning for his death. I hate him because the world will miss him so much! I hate him because he still has to teach the youth of the value of self-discipline and perseverance. I hate him because he did not wait for his enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I hate him because he has five championship rings and two Olympics gold medals. I hate him because he is no longer around to celebrate whatever achievement of the Los Angeles Lakers in the future. I hate him because he was always compared to Michael Jordan as the Greatest of All-Time (GOAT) or said to be better than LeBron James.

I hate him because he denied MJ the final gem to his illustrious 14 All-Star appearances by sinking two of three free throws that put Jordan’s signature fade-away jumper to nada. Kobe’s FTs sent the game into its second overtime, and the West squad went to beat the East 155-145 in 2003 All-Star Games in Atlanta.

I hate him because he was the reason why Shaquille O’Neal left LA for Miami (but somehow thanked him for that, because Dwayne Wade and Alonzo Mourning went to win a championship in 2004). I hate how he lived up to his moniker, the Black Mamba. I hate his winning attitude. I hate how good he played the game. But most of all I hate him because he was KOBE BRYANT.

But I do loved him!

I love how he lived his life to the fullest. I love his leadership inside the court. I love his athleticism, his aggressiveness, his high basketball IQ. I love the way he took over the game. I love his rise to the top of the game. I love how he scored 81 points. I love how he scored 60 on his final NBA game.

I love his attitude. I love his self-discipline. I love how he loved basketball. I love his attitude towards winning. I love how he motivated his teammates. I love how he loved the Lakers.

I loved the way he loved the Philippines. He’s been here six times. I love how he inspired the young Filipinos. I love his shoes (although I still have two Jordans, one LBJ and zero Kobe. I still love his shoes). And I love him because he is KOBE BRYANT.

The news of Kobe’s death really took me time to comprehend. It was surreal! He was very healthy and alive when he greeted LeBron for passing him as the third-best all-time scoring on Saturday. But accidents do happen. Only the Creator knows when your time is up.

Farewell Kobe. May the gods of basketball take you to heaven. Eternal rest Black Mamba. We will celebrate your life and remember you for eternity. Thank you. I am your fan. Ciao!

Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2015 (Wikipedia photo)