Shortly before hearing of the passing of the late Kobe Bryant, I had just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”. At the end of the book, Mr. Gaiman puts in an epilogue chapter that he personally could not find a spot for within the story. During this chapter, the main character is talking with someone we are to believe is Jesus Christ. Jesus proceeds to ask the main character if, by now, he had come to understand “what it means to be a god”.
He says, “It means you give up your mortal existence to become a meme: something that lives forever in people’s minds, like the tune of a nursery rhyme. It means that everyone gets to re-create you in their own minds”. Re-reading this quote, I find myself thinking about Kobe, and what he truly meant to people. I ask you, would you consider Kobe Briant a god?
In a religious sense, or as the book would present it, the ways of the old gods, no. But the way the story frames it, any and all things that can receive worship, from television to the internet, can be a god. Kobe Bryant spent all of his career, and through extension, most of his life being what people wanted him to be.
Now of course he was human, meaning he had his flaws. He has done, and been accused of doing, things he would never be able to shake off. But from the words of the people that knew him best, it sounds as if he spent his life trying to be better than the sum of his sins. Trying to be, not only the best ball player he could be, but the best father he could be.
This could not be shown any better than in any interaction he had with his 4 daughters. Natalia, Bianka, Capri, and of course, the late Gianna, who seemed to follow in her father’s footsteps, and be more of a prodigy to his legacy than even he could have asked for. No parent should ever have to bury a child, and my heart goes out to the Bryant family.
In life, and in death, Kobe has already given up his mortal existence to be exactly people need him to be. To some, no matter what, he’ll always be a villain. But to others he’s an athlete. He’s been labeled a team mate, a ball hog, a small forward, and a shooting guard. He’s been called an inspiration, a leader, a coach, a father, and a friend.
Now I’m not saying large gothic architecture temples should be erected in the name of Kobe Bryant, but somewhere in the world, someone is dedicating a 3 to the black Mamba on a regulation height rimmed alter, practicing the gospel of Kobe Bryant.
“Everything Negative is an opportunity to rise.” “Do whatever it takes to win, whether it’s sitting on the bench, waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game winning shot.” “The moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win.” “Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back, THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you.”
R.I.P. To The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant. 1978-2020