This was a weird season to start with - should we focus on the future, or want to watch Kobe's swansong? There were moments from both. But, I know one thing for sure, I won't be able to see any more of the Mamba Game after tomorrow. Hopefully, the future is bright.
So, Kobe Bryant, Thank you for everything basketball, and more.
It was him who attracted me to the game, to the NBA, like a magnet. I was an impressionable child, and I must be lucky Kobe wrote on it first. There were the Threepeat years, the magnet grew stronger. He showed how to persevere. He wanted to perfect his game, practiced. Hard. His work ethic separated him from most. His hunger grew bigger and bigger, and carried the Lakers through many tough years until Pau came along and Bynum grew stronger.
The recent years are fresher in my heart and soul. The sickening loss to Boston in '08. The bossing of Orlando in '09 and the bloody revenge against Boston in '10 - damn, that was sweet. The image of Kobe hugging the ball tight and emotionally erupting, letting out all the frustration go - that is in easy reach back in my mind. I couldn't think straight the morning of game-7. And I was in the first week of my first job.
The pain of 2011 never healed, but the Achilles injury was the most heart-breaking news. And what does Kobe do? He crawls to the charity stripe and sinks two free throws, and Lakers won the game by just that much. Awe-inspiring dedication. To work harder, come back and play harder, Kobe remained dedicated; he could have had simpler ways out - he was paid a lot even if he didn't wish to play. He decides to put his body on the line for the team and make our daily efforts at work and school look trivial.
For all the lessons on hard work, dedication, focus, perseverance; for the moments that started my day, and the emotions attached to each of those games that we fans feed on - thank you. We asked for a game, you gave us your heart and soul.
Also, thanks to another legend - Dr. Gary Vitti (who too is retiring)- who helped Kobe be Kobe, physically; to Dr. Judy Seto - to literally bubble wrap Kobe in medical care till date; and to the Zen Master.
Today, Kobe is nearly 38 years old, 20 of which he spent playing ball for the Los Angeles Lakers. I hope he goes back to his family, lives some of the lost time. Probably in the years to come, he would be back to the NBA scene - not to "give something back to the game he loved", but because he belongs, this is his home.