This is not about hate, specifically.
Yesterday, November 29th, 2015, Kobe Bean Bryant announced his retirement from the NBA following this season. I’m not ESPN, so I’ll save you the stats and commentary about the lackluster season he’s having.
Because Kobe has been great longer than he’s been anything close to “terrible.” Something most of us cannot relate to. So the best we can do is pretend to know.
The best we can do is be professional fans and hope a retired, bored Kobe doesn’t waltz into our local gym and embarrass us one day with 150 points-worth of turnaround jumpers.
No, I don’t know Kobe.
But as a respecter of his game, I’ve heard/read many a folktale of his obsessiveness of roundball. Akin to Jordan. See: Kobe Doin’ Work. And I cringe a little at the thought of some evident truths falling from the narrative of his retirement. From the narrative that will be carried by news outlets and commenters alike.
For a guy who lives, bleeds, and breathes basketball, it goes without saying, that Kobe went back and forth on this decision. That the decision was a methodical one. That if he had a sliver of anything left, he’d likely reconsider. That he could give a damn about commentary or legacy or what you or I tweet about him. Because he’s gonna keep shooting. And shooting. And shooting. Until he’s (almost) leg-less.
Most people who hate him, can’t help but respect his dedication. His relentlessness. Everything he’s given to his craft. The sacrifice of his body to the game.
There are only a few that fall in this category. Most of them are known by one name.
I can only hope to love writing or anything as much as Kobe loves basketball. To toil, practice, and obsess over it so much so that my standards are far above any outsider’s criticism. I hope to honor my craft with enough dedication, to keep writing until the lights go out.
Thank you, Kobe. Thank you for showing us what work is. What sacrifice is. What fearlessness is.
You are appreciated.