We return with part two of the remembering Kobe Bryant round table series. With the out pour of emotion within the Los Angeles Lakers community over the last week, a number of die-hard fans wished to speak about their love, respect and sorrow for the passing of the
Q: What emotions are you currently feeling now about the loss of Kobe?
Matt Evans: “A few days have passed now and the feelings have settled. But it’s still a shock how this could happen to such an iconic, influential human being. Along with his incredibly talented young daughter. Kobe was single-handedly the reason I got into basketball, why my passion for the Lakers is so big, and why every opportunity in basketball has been presented to myself. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Bryant family and also to those of the other 7 involved in the tragedy.”
Jamie Cox: “I am still really struggling to get my head around it all. There are brief moments at work or home when other things take over and I forget for a few minutes but then I go back on social media and it all becomes far too real again. Going to take some time for it all to sink in.”
Nick Jones: “I have gone through stages of hurting, sadness, confusion, and emptiness. I’m starting to accept it now but still get emotional and tearful when seeing the players and ex-teammates reacting the way they have.”
Conor Hayward: “Kobe’s passing has affected me in a way that I didn’t see possible, I never thought I’d cry over the death of someone I’d never met before but I guess that’s a true testament for what he meant to me and for what he did for all of our lives. Kobe’s passing will go down as one of those horrible engraved memories that you can never budge, I’ll always remember where I was and what I was doing when the news was broken to me. It’s been 5 full days since this tragedy occurred and I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that the pain his loss brings will never go but in time the Laker Nation family will grow and adapt and use his passing as motivation to strive for more.”
Mark Burland: “I’ve had a few days to digest this now. We “knew” Kobe because of basketball. He was a phenomenal player. But we said goodbye to Kobe the baller on his terms when he dropped 60. What makes me sad now is to see the reactions of those who knew him. Above that, those who were close to him – Rob, Jeannie, etc. And then above that still, to think about the pain inflicted on his family. That isn’t personal to me. Knowing Kobe the basketball player wasn’t the same as knowing Kobe the dad, husband, son, friend. I feel deeply sad for those that knew him that way, and the same for his daughter too.”
Steve Foster: “Man, pure shock still… I’m sure we’ve all suffered loss before, be it family, friends or even a celebrity figure you look up to… but even for somebody I didn’t know personally, this feels different… maybe it was the way he went… taken so early and completely out of the blue… when somebody passes away from illness, etc, obviously, it’s still gut-wrenching but, in a way, you can kind of come to terms with it before they go.
You grieve with them, you make the most of their time and look back on their life but you kind of know its coming so you get the chance to say goodbye… this was a total shock, like a bad dream. My thoughts are with his beautiful family, I can’t imagine how tough it is for them losing a husband/father and an amazing daughter/sister.”
Q: What is your fondest Kobe Bryant memory?
Matt: “Mine would be going to see him play, for the first and last time. I was studying in New York at the time and a friend and I took a Mega bus up to Boston for the Lakers-Celtics game. I was truly in awe watching my basketball idol play. We got blown out but I didn’t care. I got to see Kobe play! I will carry that with me for life. The second-best memory (if you don’t mind me sharing) is his final game. 60 POINTS. WOW. I don’t think I need to say much more about that game!”
Jamie: “Sadly, I didn’t have an NBA League Pass during the Championship seasons as only had this for the last few years. My fondest memory is, therefore, the 60-point game in his farewell game against the Jazz in 2016. I got up to watch it live and couldn’t believe how he finished the game, it was mesmerising. He put every single last drop of energy into his performance and went out the complete winner that he was.”
Nick: “100% the shots vs Phoenix in 2006 playoffs to take the game into overtime and then the game-winner. It was my very first game watching from start to finish on Sky even though I’d followed Lakers for years. I fell in love with basketball and cemented my Laker fandom.”
Conor: “Wow, where do you even start with this question? I could sit here and write about all those spectacular moments piece by piece but for me, it would be Kobe’s final game against Utah, emotions were high that evening, I finished work at about 11 pm and came home ready for the 3 am tip-off, I knew from the get-go this that was going to be a mix of emotions but who could write something like that?! 60 POINTS, 60 in his final game.
I watch that game over and over at least every 6 months or so but in the last few days, I’ve probably studied his footwork from that game to a key. I loved Kobe for many reasons and one of them was because he knew how to put on a show and on April 13th, 2016 he rewrote history.”
Mark: “Easy, When Kobe compared DJ Mbenga to sloth from the Goonies.
“Hey you guys!”
Steve: “There are so many to think of, that’s one of the best things right now… scoring 81, the 5 championships, beating the Celtics(!), the friendship with Pau Gasol, the sheer, unstoppable, dynamic duo of Kobe & Shaq, the battles with some of the greatest to ever play the game… the list goes on and on! People throw the term ‘legend’ around pretty freely, but Kobe was, is and always will be a true legend.
I started playing basketball around 11 or 12 years old, at the time in the ’90s, I watched everything I could, never really supported one team, the Magic, the Bulls, Lakers, even the Knicks(!) were all good to watch. I decided to be a Laker fan the day Shaq signed, then this rookie straight from high school comes along, just a couple of years older than me… I watched some tapes and thought “this guy looks pretty good… going to be cool if he stays In LA with Shaq…” I never thought I’d be idolizing him and watching Kobe dominate the league for 20 years on my team!
His legacy will live on in the players today and the fans, that is something that doesn’t happen often, if ever.”
Q: What did Kobe Bryant mean to the greater NBA community?
Matt: “Kobe was so much more than an NBA player. He was bigger than basketball. Yes, what he did on the court was incredible and inspiring. But he did a lot for charity, especially through the Make-a-Wish outlet. Which was special to follow along with. He was also an accomplished businessman, author, poet. The man even won an Oscar! That was just as, if not, even more, inspiring. But most importantly, he was an accomplished father. He loved his children and you can tell that they adored their father. It’s truly a tragedy.”
Jamie: “To me, he is a complete god and hero to myself and all Laker fans but the last couple of days have shown how much he meant to the whole NBA community. Every single game played since the news broke has had some form of glowing tribute to him and for a team like the Mavs to say nobody will ever wear the number 24 again when he never even played for them shows how highly thought of he was by everyone in the game. I thought that was an amazing gesture from them.”
Nick: “Everything. You can see it on everyone’s faces at the start of games and every interview. Even those who didn’t play against him or didn’t see him play in his prime. He was a mentor, friend, and idol to a lot of people involved in the sport.”
Conor: “Kobe Bean Bryant was my generation’s signature player for the NBA, he was involved in any conversation that included the NBA greats and was name-dropped in every interview with NBA players past and present, he was an idol to so many. Sadly, a lot of the great stories are never told until that person is gone but some of the stories we’ve heard from players lately have just been incredible, Kobe would lend a helping hand to even his biggest ‘rival’ and would help train and workout with any prospect that showed that true Mamba Mentality.”
Mark: “Anthony Irwin mentioned this a few days ago. The NBA lost a true ambassador for the sport in Kobe. He could reach international audiences in a way few true American sports stars ever have. He studied the game, respected the game, elevated the game. He knew the game was bigger than himself, but also had the awareness to know that what he gave to the game had value too. He would have mentored many, many more players (male and female) I’m sure. Basketball suffered a great loss.”
Steve: “Competition and inspiration. That dogged determination to be the best left a mark on even the casual fan, everyone knows his name… Most of the current players styled their game on his and studied film of him, just like Kobe did with MJ and other greats… That alone is a testament to the man… he lives on in all of us, from the fans to the best athletes in the world.”
Q: How should we all remember Kobe Bryant moving forward?
Matt: “That Mamba Mentality. To work hard, achieve your dreams, don’t let anybody doubt you, do what you love, and so on. They are a few lessons he taught me. A few of an endless amount. Kobe will live on through all of those that found inspiration in him. If we could adopt 1% of his mindset, we can achieve what we want in life. I thank Kobe for that and I will live by his words. I already did.”
Jamie: “It’s very difficult at this time to feel anything other than grief but once that passes a bit, we should all remember Kobe as a truly amazing Basketball player and athlete who gave absolutely everything to his chosen profession with a drive and passion for it that has probably never been seen before.”
Nick: “As a brilliant basketball player, the hardest worker imaginable and an amazing father. He had an unrivalled love of the sport and his dedication has inspired generations.”
Conor: “In time I hope we can take this awful event and use it for good, this season and every season will be for Kobe. August 24th now has a whole new meaning. It’s a cliche when people say, “what would he want you to do?” But at this moment I truly believe that Kobe would want his family, his teammates and his fans to make peace with his loss and to strive for everything that we want in life, make your dreams a reality. It’s still early days and tonight’s game against Portland will be tough for everyone but we will get through this, his teammates will get through this, Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri will get through this, the Mamba will live on through every one of us.”
Mark: “His legacy is a player is secure. It was set years ago. I hope his legacy as father and mentor lives on through the Mamba academy and related charities. As Laker fans, we get to remember him as someone who helped bring great joy. He did it at the highest level, for one team, for nearly 2 decades. The statue had better be pretty amazing (and I hope it includes Gigi too). On that note – I hope that the Lakers figure out a way of retiring Gigi’s jersey. If the rest of the league decides to retire 24/8 I hope that happens organically – but I do think no one should ever be allowed to wear 24 or 8 at Staples (looking at you, Paul George).”
Steve: “Again, his legacy is there as an inspiration to current players and fans alike, whether you’re an athlete or an accountant, the ‘Mamba Mentality’ can inspire you to be the best person you can be. I know I’m going to continue to use it in my life, both professionally and personally… As a father, I want to do the best I can for my son and if I can be half the dad Kobe was to his kids I’ll be happy! Also, making sure my son knows Kobe’s name, even if the only time he says it out loud is when he throws his socks in the laundry bin, it’ll make me smile.”
Q: If you could give Kobe a message right now, what would you say?
Matt: “This segment could be never-ending, to be honest, but I would say thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you again. You made a young, wide-eyed, intrigued boy develop a passion for an incredible sport and franchise. One that was not a natural progression being from the UK. That has built many opportunities in the sport of basketball for myself. And I thank you for that. Also, just thank you for the memories. The countless on the court memories. You inspired many generations and will continue in years to come. We will never forget you.”
Jamie: “I’d probably just say thanks for being you and for being so great and for providing me and the Lakers Nation with a host of awesome memories that will live with us all forever. R.I.P Kobe.”
Nick: “You have been my idol for 15 years. I miss you more than words can express. You are a true inspiration to millions across the world. I love you man.”
Conor: “Kobe, thank you.
You meant more than you can ever imagine to me, the effect you had on my life wasn’t just like my favorite basketball player, it was more than that, you were my idol and I idolized everything you attempted and accomplished. I can’t even tell you how often I use the number 24 out of pure love, whether it be making a new username or even something as crazy as throwing done some money on the roulette table, 24 is always at the forefront of my mind. Did somebody ask me for two random colors? They’re getting purple and gold regardless of the choice. The point of what I’m trying to say is that I live and breathe the Lakers, not because of the colors, not because of the numbers not because of the location but because Kobe Bryant made me fall in love with the Lakers organization.
We love and miss you every day and you’ll never be forgotten, thank you for the blood sweat and tears, thank you for being Kobe Bryant.”
Mark: “Impossible to say. I’m a religious person, I believe he will live again!”
Steve: “Thank you, for everything.”