Listening to dudes reflect on Kobe Bryant’s career and pontificate about his greatness had me surfing the social media manure to make sure he was retiring and didn’t die in a tragic car accident or something.
The way people are talking about Black Mamba, you would think he had passed. Every time I hear an ex-player like Reggie Miller or Dennis Scott or a commentator speak on the Lakers great who announced he is retiring at the end of the season, they express themselves as if they are reading a eulogy.
Indeed, Kobe’s departure from the game after 20 glorious seasons, five NBA titles and endless “oh sh@t” moments is a hard-to-swallow pill for ballers and hardwood admirers who grew up marveling at Kobe’s exploits and imitating his game, which was patterned after Michael Jordan’s.
On the other hand, the legion of Kobe detractors, who never could shake the effects of his rocky but mythical championship relationship with Shaq, would rather see Bryant forego his final 66 games and exit stage left immediately. In reality, with his team mush city and his shot rickety, they should be basking in the glory of seeing this immortal scoring maven average 15.5 points and shoot 30 percent from the field. Ugly numbers for a cat in G.O.A.T. contention.
Now, however, they will not be getting their wish. In fact, Kobe has turned the tables on his critics and major-haters by announcing his retirement and allowing himself a grand finale tour, where he is sure to be showered with gifts, accolades and universally loved like never before. Every player, teammate, coach, fringe fan and analyst who never cared for Kobe while he was balling, is singing his praises.
Even Shaq has been flowing with superlatives and positive reflections about his eight seasons and three titles he won with the young gunner.
Said Shaq on NBA TV: “We were the most entertaining, most enigmatic, most controversial and No. 1, 1-2 punch in Lakers history. People will say a lot of other combinations... but they didn’t do it to the magnitude that me and Kobe did it.”
And I say everyone should enjoy it.
The Kobe haters should relax and revel in the fact that every time the clock expires in a Lakers game this season, they are one game closer to never seeing his team-obliterating, squad-mashing, brolic-bucket-busting face on an NBA court again.
The ex-teammates, cable sports network and social media entities should pace themselves. The rush of Kobe media mania since he announced his retirement certainly can’t sustain this level throughout the season, and the last thing we want is Kobe’s last few games to be anticlimactic and uninteresting, because the fact that he’s retiring has been beaten into our sports conscience like a dead horse.
He didn’t pass. He’s passing on to his life-after-basketball. It’s good to see that he is getting his just props though. It’s something he never got as a player who will finish his career as the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
Let’s just keep in mind that there is an NBA season going on and Kobe is still playing. Overkill can kill a possibly grand farewell tour. The media needs to chill before they totally sicken everyone on hearing anything related to his retirement.
With the Golden State Warriors blazing to an NBA record 19-0 start and Chef Curry (who has turned the difficulty of hitting 30-footers into the equivalent of tying one’s shoe) leading the way, this was supposed to be the season that he officially ascended to the No. 1 spot and dominated the NBA headlines, back pages, social media mix and marketing magic.
It’s becoming clear that regardless of how ill his GSW squad is this season, their narrative will be overshadowed by the “Funeral of Kobe Bryant” which will last another five or six months. So just be prepared to relive every Kobe Bryant moment and highlight ever documented.
I'll just leave this one master mix right here for the Lil' Bean Bryant loyalists and loathers.