Apr 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) is helped up by teammates against the Golden State Warriors during the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

What Kobe Bryant Has Meant to Me

I know what you’re thinking. Why am I writing this when Kobe hasn’t retired, and will more then likely make a comeback. Because of recent events, I have been thinking a lot. Seeing Kobe go down, watching Twitter react, and hearing Kobe talk after the game about the injury was heartbreaking. So, this is going to be all about what Kobe has meant to me, and how he affected my life.

It all started in 1996, the year Kobe was drafted, which also happened to be the same year I was born. I can’t imagine the NBA without Kobe. I only know an NBA with Kobe Bryant. Watching basketball in a world without Kobe Bryant is going to be different, and I’m still not sure how I will adjust to it yet. Kobe has been one thing I have always been able to rely on, and in one fall, it all vanished.

I remember when I was anywhere from 5-12 years old, I would always make up situations in my head when I put up shots in the backyard. Usually I would envision myself as Kobe, or being Kobe’s teammate on the Lakers. I always used to work on the patented Kobe Bryant fade-away jumper.

We all know Kobe is going to retire soon, he’s been saying it all season. Because of that, I have thought about who I would root for players wise. Yes, I will still be a Lakers fan, I always will be. The game is more fun when there is a certain player you watch and cheer for. I have been saying all year long my next favorite player will be Kyrie Irving. He’s an upcoming superstar in the league, and it will be fun to watch him grow and mature into that player. Will I ever be able to root for Irving like I did for Kobe? No. There will never be a player who I will love like I loved Kobe. Ever. That’s how it’s going to be, and that’s the way it should be.

I’ve had all kinds of memories regarding Kobe. I didn’t watch the 81 point game, but I remember waking up the next morning and seeing the box score. I went and bragged to all of my friends at school. I remember being so disappointed when the Lakers lost to the Pistons. I remember the pain the 2004-2005 season brought. I remember all the trade rumors surrounding him, and how he wanted out. I remember dancing around my living room when the Lakers won game 5 of the Finals against the Magic. I remember when the Lakers beat the Celtics, and people were all over Kobe for his Game 7 performance. I remember. I will always be thankful of Kobe for those moments.

What Kobe has done to the game is irreplaceable. He’s one of the most polarizing players in the league. Even if you don’t like him, at least respect his game. We won’t have another player like this for a long time. You can hate him all you want, but you can’t hate on what he has done for the game. Probably the best thing about the injury was seeing all of these people on Twitter talk about how sad they were. There is so much respect for Kobe, and that will never change.

Watching the last quarter of the game last night was brutal. Seeing Kobe go down the first two times was enough for me. Every time he went down all I could think to myself was “No. Not Kobe. Please not Kobe.” It is what it is, though. There is no one to blame for what happened.

Kobe was my first favorite player, the first jersey I ever owned, and the first player I tried to model my game after. Heck, he was even the first topic I blogged about. I’m not trying to write him off, I know he’s going to come back next year. Knowing Kobe, he will come back better than ever. Count on it, and count on Mamba.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can contact me on Twitter @Caleb_Cottrell, or you can comment in the comment section down below. 

Tags: Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers

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