I begin writing this piece feeling sad and angry toward the events that transpired on January 26, 2020. I have always been a huge NBA fan. Well, really a basketball fan in general. My father was a season ticket holder with the Chicago Bulls throughout the Jordan Era, so I was lucky enough to see Michael Jordan play in person. Even though I was really young, I still sort of remember the Finals games my dad brought me to.
Fast forward to the early 2000s. At this point, I am really starting to notice the NBA in a different light. I became enthralled with it. I enjoyed watching players like Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Steve Francis. However, I remember in particular two players I LOVED watching — Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant.
A young Juiceman and I would play on the court for hours mimicking what those two would do. As I got older, I realized how much MJ's game was in Kobe's game and I developed a new love for the guy. He was full of fire, a passionate guy both on and off the court. It was just impossible not to cheer for him.
It felt cool to watch and comprehend greatness. It felt awesome at the time to be a young kid and argue who was better, or who would be better. The countless buzzer-beaters, the All-Star Game MVP's, the will to win, and the passion Kobe played with were second to none.
With all the career accolades and highlights that Kobe has, that's not what is most impressive about his life. The thing that strikes my heart the most about this tragedy is just how great of a father he was.
The way he talked about his children chokes me up as I'm writing this. I have a daughter and I feel the same way Kobe does about his girls. At times, he was asked about trying to have a boy in order to keep the family name alive. He always laughed it off and said his daughter Gigi would hold it down. That's the way I feel about my little girl, who is about to turn two.
So, I guess what I am trying to do is thank Kobe. Thank you for being a hero and someone to root for in my childhood. Thank you for helping me grow the love I have for the game, and thank you for being a great father. You inspired me to be better at basketball as a child and you still, to this day, inspire me to be the best father I can be. Millions of people around the world are mourning your loss, but we need to remain strong and remember who you were and what you were about. A class act on and off the court.
We here at OnTapSportsNet.com extend our condolences, thoughts, and prayers to the entire Bryant family and to all the passengers who are also gone too soon, along with their loved ones.