CEBU

Fetalvero: Kobe: the man, the legend

HE ELEVATED, maneuvered a 180-degree spin and then executed a slam dunk for his Lakers team... that classic move from basketball legend Kobe Bryant who easily scored 60 points in a given game.

The fearless and venomous trait of a snake empowered him to have that black mamba mentality... always threatening his opponents with aggressive moves in the basketball court where he spent more than half of his life.

He got drafted into the NBA when he was only 18 years old. Aside from being fluent in English, Kobe was a linguist. He spoke Italian, Spanish, Chinese and reportedly trash talked with Tony Parker in French.

Kobe said, “If you want to make it in history, do something historical.” Kobe won five championships and remained with the Lakers team until his retirement which Kobe described as the happiest moment of his life.

While he played a dual role as coach to Gianna’s team and as a doting father to his three children, Kobe still found time to be a philanthropist.

He visited the Philippines five times and in each visit, Kobe never failed to charm basketball enthusiasts and his fans with his accommodating persona. There is no doubt that he loved the Filipinos. The feeling was mutual. Saddened by the news about Kobe’s early demise, his Filipino fans painted a huge mural on a basketball court in a tenement complex in Manila.

When I was studying Dental Technology in Los Angeles, California, a classmate challenged me, ”Your Lakers team will not get a back-to-back championship.” I countered, “Will you bet a Kobe jersey?” I won and got a Kobe #24 jersey. My son proudly wears the jersey to date.

I bought myself a Kobe figurine that I displayed on the dashboard of my car. Kobe shook his head when I drove pass the speed limit on L.A.’s freeways. He nodded when I reduced speed.

Kobe who was only 41 when the helicopter crash happened. The dash between 1978 and 2020 represents how he lived his life. I am most certain our Creator is very pleased with Kobe whose life story unfolded right in front of the scrutinizing public eye.

He had his reputation marred at an early age but he cried foul with dignity and grace and faced the charges. Upon his exoneration, he must have felt like he just made a three-point shot plus a bonus free throw.

In his book “Black Mamba,” Kobe wrote: “I varied my approach from player to player. I still challenged and made them uncomfortable.” I doff my Lakers basketball cap to my idol, Kobe Bryant.


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