Timberwolves Mourn The Loss Of Kobe Bryant
The news still doesn’t seem real.
On Sunday, the world learned that it had lost Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven others, in a tragic helicopter accident in Calabasas.
While we are losing an NBA legend, we are also losing eight others, including a teenager who seemed to have the brightest future ahead of her. That might be what’s drowning our hearts the most right now.
You don’t need to be a basketball fan to know who Bryant was or why he was so important. He was one of those icons who was bigger than the game itself. We’re talking about Kobe Bryant here. This isn’t how this was supposed to end.
For players in today’s NBA, Kobe was a guy most of them grew up watching. It’s been said enough times, but he was the Michael Jordan of that generation.
“He was my childhood,” Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said. “I grew up watching him, mimicking his moves, wanting to take those last-second shots because of him, wanting the pressure moments. Me and my family and my closest friends who I call my brothers we sat down and we watched a lot of Kobe. It was surreal yesterday to see that news. I was with Andrew (Wiggins) when I got it, and it was just a surreal moment.”
You don’t have to be an NBA player or coach to have a Kobe story. He impacted all of us. There’s the Mamba Mentality. The throwing anything towards a target and yelling, “KOBE!” The giving your absolute everything for something you care about.
If there was one thing Kobe Bryant wanted people to remember about his legacy, it wasn’t how good he was. It was how hard he worked to get that good. Everything on the line, every single night. And he never hid it. Basketball was his life. And that focus shifted in post-retirement to his family. It was so special and heartwarming to see Kobe the dad. Kobe smiling with one of his four daughters and his wife Vanessa was one of the most-heartwarming scenes ever. Kobe seemed so happy. Gianna seemed to love basketball the way her dad did, and he was doing everything he could do to help her succeed.
“I’m glad that we got to see him more in public post-basketball with his daughters,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders, a new father himself, said. “That’s special to see. It’s special to see that these guys are human.”
One of the most-difficult things about life is indeed death. Even after we lose someone as impactful as someone like Kobe Bryant, life goes on. Games continue to be played. It feels cruel, really, which is probably also why it will probably never completely sink in. Why can’t everything just stop?
While it’s absolutely cliché to write this, but we all know Kobe wouldn’t want that. Kobe would want the competition.
Kobe’s legacy will live on forever, perhaps greater than any other player in NBA history.
On Monday, players from the Timberwolves were asked about Bryant’s legacy and what he meant to them individually. Availabilities like these are not fun. Nobody wants to be talking about what they are talking about.
“I just found myself at times just staring and just watching all of the things and reading up like it was real,” Timberwolves forward Robert Covington said after hearing of the news. “I didn’t want to believe it, and I still don’t want to believe it.”
Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas was on the other side of battles against Kobe’s Lakers through the years as a member of the Rockets’ front office.
Rosas might have captured what an opponent or a rival felt the most about Kobe.
“I think it’s the ultimate respect, and a lot of it is being a part of those Houston teams where we battled with those guys,” Rosas said. “It was Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant and then it was Shane Battier and Kobe. You couldn’t stand the guy. But you couldn’t stand him because he was so great, and he won so much.”
The NBA will never be the same.
January 26, 2020, will go down as one of the saddest days in NBA history.
The best way to honor him is for all of us to try to give back just a fraction of the memories he was able to give all of us through the years. Kobe may be gone, but we can all play a part in making sure his Mamba Mentality lives forever.
Katie Davidson contributed to this story.