The world was blinded on January 22, 2006. They saw numbers. Astounding numbers. So great in fact, these numbers overshadowed the Superbowl Sunday forecast. Disbelief, confusion,astonishment—all profoundly wrapped together—engulfed the sports world, the entire world. By 81 points, and by an 18 point comeback, the Los Angeles Lakers annihilated to Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006. No one noticed the 18 though, or the 7-10 winning record lately. They saw 81 and they praised him, vilified him, and elevated his legacy into the levels of Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. “They” never thought of his heart when the Lakers were down by 18, ad “they” failed to notice the defensive intensity Kobe brought forth in the fourth quarter of the comeback victory.
When I refer to “they”, I refer to those who just stare at a boxscore and make assumptions. I refer to those who not only judge a book by it’s cover, but buy the book based on it’s cover. And I challenge them to look beyond what the media may feed all the tepid viewers in the world, but to check out the Hollywood Story through an eyewitness. To check out the playa. And to check the hate.
Once in awhile a great player passes through the hardwood courts and astounds basketball fans. Now, once in a lifetime a player passes through the hardwood courts and astounds society. Kobe Bryant—in essence—has reached that level, for better or for worse. From his airballs at Utah to swishes at Staples Center, Kobe’s transformation into the most prolific scorer in the game has resulted from his desire for greatness, and for championships. His drive and desire for excellence has propelled him to greatness, not 81. Not any number, but rather a heart.
With the turbulent past behind him and an unknown future in front of him, Kobe Bryant focuses on winning today. His message is simple: I’ll do anything it takes to win, and that includes killing you and your team to accomplish it. Showing up at the gym starting 6:00AM six days a week echoes this aggressive message. Choosing to fly from Colorado in the afternoon to win a game at Staples the same night echoes this intimidating message. Adapting plays from Michael—along with many others through every all star game—every all star weekend echoes this frightful message. Pouring 45.5 points per over the past 10 games comes as an end result to his desire. Scoring 62 and 81 respectively comes as an end result to his desire. Scoring into history is nice, but Kobe cares more about rings, not points.
So while “they” associate Kobe with 81, real fans associate Kobe with something greater, more profound and rewarding—the truth. They associate Kobe with a winner. By relentless work ethic, by determination, leadership and action, with a killer instinct to strike fear into the hearts of everyone. While his legacy has many steps left to take, his future remains bright. Not by 81, 62, or 45.5, but rather, the special passion behind it all. I will give number 8 one numerical credit though; I view him as #1 in my book.
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