I can barely find the words.
I couldn’t even move this morning. 5AM in Japan, phone constant with concern. Jet-lag feels like an unreal nightmare.
I shouldn’t be writing this.
But it’s all I know. All I can do to pay tribute to this man and his daughter like street artists throughout L.A. taking spray paint to concrete canvas in mural memorial as we speak. Or like Cuban, numbers 8 and 24 being retired throughout the NBA like a Jackie Robinson 42. Or those pair of digits up in the rafters of STAPLES with the rest of the banners raised by the man who was about to walk into the Hall like the ‘Dear Basketball’ he walked away from with an Oscar in his left hand. Right palm holding the shoulder of his daughter he raised, who was carrying his legendary load.
All until this truly tragic day.
It doesn’t feel real. Like waking up from a nightmare or some sick hoax.
Anything but this.
We all know the news now. The helicopter crash that took not only the life of Kobe Bryant, but his daughter Gianna too and Orange County baseball coach John Altobelli and his family and the poor pilot. We remember them all. We send real thoughts and real prayers to them and their loved ones.
The statistics couldn’t measure up to the man. But they say a great deal. The five-time champ. The Olympic Gold medalist in this year of Tokyo, 2020. The multiple All-Star, MVP and scoring champ, fourth all-time. There are some numbers that don’t need an introduction.
The G.O.A.T. The best ever that we still couldn’t believe couldn’t be back one season like M.J. for one more game. The gifted storyteller penning the wind of his second career to a whole new Academy of glory after rewriting NBA history again and again. All until the cruel and callous fickle hands of fate. Now we can’t believe we can’t ever see him courtside again with GiGi. Breaking the game down to the real love of his life like Vanessa and the rest of his four daughters we are sending all our love to in this devastating morning of heartbreak.
It hurts to write this. But we have to. After the mourning, we have to remember the good times. We have to tell the story of the man and the Mamba Mentality. The man who tore his shoulder and shot through it like a torn jersey. The man who played through a dislocated finger popped back into place like his same shot fading away but never in our memories. The man who tore his achillies, pushed it back in, hit a couple of free throws and walked off the court like the strongest who survived it all. A Mamba a Matt Barnes Spalding to the face fake couldn’t phase. Unmoved. Untouchable. And then he turned him into a teammate and friend like World Peace. This man went to war for the love of the game. Hustle and heart. The Fresh Prince with the ‘fro from Philly who next to the Most Dominant Ever, Shaquille O’Neal became a L.A. King like Magic or LeBron. And now they want to make him the logo like Jerry West for the top gun of the wild one and defensive doberman.
Raise a glass of vino for Vino.
He was our M.J. Our LeBron. Kobe’s game made me want to pick up the pen and put it in words it was so wonderful. He was my first article, so I owe my writing career to him. Without him there is no this. Yep. I did go to Kobe, Japan this December gone primarily because it was the name of my favourite Basketball player. He was named after the beef by Joe ‘Jellybean’ and is an ambassador of the place now. Now the cities motto has even more poignancy. Be Kobe. Alone in the Far East like a sign the night before I saw a Japanese man head to toe draped in Lakers regalia and the number 24. The day after I just wanted to find him and hug him. Without him there is no this. Without him there is no us. No Kevin Durant, Kyle Kuzma, Trae Young. You name them. Your favourite players, favourite player.
YOUR favourite player.
This hurts to much to type. My hand is shaking as I write these lines. I can’t go on. But his memory will in the joy former teammate and alley-oop pitch passer Brian Shaw through raw tears told you to focus on. Just as teams in tribute drilled out 8 half-court and 24 shot clock violations in standing ovation chants. As his Mecca of Madison Square Garden turned purple and gold like many arenas and cities bathed in tribute tonight. Just like Gianna Bryant would have continued his legacy as we know she would of been as an WNBA legend until this heartbreaking day.
Two incredible basketball players lost their lives today. But it’s not about that. Its bigger than basketball. Two incredible people lost their lives today. God look after and watch over the Bryant family.
There were so many beautiful tributes today for Kobe Bryant, but also so many poor practices in reporting. Like TMZ breaking the news before it was confirmed and the family found out. Or the BBC using footage of LeBron instead of Kobe. Forget the distasteful need to be first and do better.
Or the nasty rumour that Laker legend Rick Fox was in the helicopter too. Do people have any idea what that would have done to his family?
I shouldn’t be writing this. Today is not the day for it. But there’s nothing else I can do. It’s all I’ve got. I’m so sorry.
Dear Kobe and GiGi. Playing in the hoop heavens together.
Lakers cut Cousins for Hollywood Morris vs Morris twin brothers story
Pelican and Wildcat pack connected with Laker superstar Anthony Davis and veteran legend point Rajon Rondo, when the Lakers copped Sacramento Kings great DeMarcus Cousins this off-season it was meant to be their strongest Summer signing. Reuniting D.C. with A.D. after their N.O. year this was just a campaign after Cousins related to a Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors superteam that only last season, after the arrival of the big-man — fans around the league were calling not playing fair.
Because Boogie down low was the best center in the league, reminded us of an explosive TNT hybrid of Shaq and Chuck. But his post power productions have been crippled by injury even if he ill-advised but all heart tried to redemption return for his former Warriors’ team in the losing finals against the Raptors.
Now out of California again, even though he is no longer a Warrior, like K.D. you can always dub DeMarcus as one.
Meanwhile, whilst Lakers fans were celebrating Cousins arrival with caution once they knew he still needed time to recover, the Lakers brought back to bewilderment the infamous name of Dwight Howard. It looked laughable and ludicrous to bring back the former Mickey Mouse superstar even on a non-guaranteed contract. Especially when there were other former All Stars and future Hall of Famers on the market (Carmelo Cough Anthony).
It looked like chemistry cancer. But it was as natural as biology. And then so many rebounds, blocks, dunks, one contest and guaranteed contract later and the redemption reunion was set for a season that took everyone by surprise. The epic, emphatic energy Hollywood needed way back when flipped the script, as changing his legacy number 39 dunked all over the legend of 12 with his signature smile.
Just when the Lakers thought their dynamic Wilt and West, Magic and Kareem, Shaq and Kobe following dynamic duo of the beard and the brow of LeBron James and Anthony Davis had a big-three like Miami in DeMarcus Cousins, it actually turned out that the Lakers had a big-three Ghidora like post blocking and dunking monster of Davis, Dwight and of course all-time fan favourite, JaVale McGee. But still fans thought that once D.C. came back to Cali’s capital, another head would grow. But now the Lakers have cut it off like a broken leg in the Wild West wilderness this Winter.
The Lakers have waived DeMarcus Cousins before he ever played a single game or before he got the chance to show that he’s still got it like that. But trust he still will as another team will pick him up (if only it was the Lakers next season as DeMarcus talked about how much he liked this brotherhood 1 through 15 before sharing on Instagram his “tough times don’t last. Tough people do” tattoo following the cut). Forget a Howard’s end in redemption, there’s about to be a revenge reunion. Especially if a rival picks him up in these mind games.
Because the Lakers have just played one whilst hopefully not playing themselves. Cousins could have been that Rasheed Wallace like Pistons’ signing after the trade deadline that could have guaranteed them a chip (and do we remember who that Detroit Bad Boys reboot team beat in the finals that season? I will give you a clue. Even adding the Mailman and Glove of Karl Malone and Gary Payton wasn’t enough). Although rumour has it with him rehabbing at the Lakers facility for the rest of the year (this isn’t the first time the Lakes have made a classy move like this. See, Xavier Henry), after this sacrifice he may re-sign with the Lakers this Summer anyway. But now however the Lakers’ have brought in another former Piston to hopefully fuel their assembly line.
After missing out on ‘Melo and Andre Iguodala the Lakers didn’t want to make the same mistake for one of the best on the buyout, even if they have just added the realest to the free agent pool to get him. The hustle and heart of Markieff Morris is exactly the true grit this Hollywood team needs for the playoffs that they have been missing since they didn’t re-up Tyson Chandler.
Bolstering the Caruso and cook-ed up bench and backing-up and giving more three space for Kyle Kuzma. But what’s more like the dreads and headband, Spider-Man pointing match-up of Harkless and Jae Crowder, the Lakers now have a Morris vs Morris brother Hollywood story perfect for their script ending that should see the Battle for Los Angeles Western Conference Finals closing chapter with the Clippers that much more compelling.
Now the L.A. King one-two punches of James and Davis versus Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have more in reserve for Markieff and Marcus matching-up with twin ambition. And it’s going to make for some epic entertainment come playoff time that we can preview at the start of April for the California clash rescheduled after the tragic death of Kobe and GiGi Bryant. And what’s more Marcus says the brothers after playing together for years are going to live in the same house in Los Angeles. That should make for some awkward dinners after we see who is eating come June.
The Lakers have just gained another brother. But in this Fast and Furious league when it’s all about family, don’t forget about your cousins.
Wade In The Rafters. The Heat Rises To 3
How’s this for a Flashpoint in NBA history?
Tonight the Miami Heat gave us ‘The Flashback’. DeLorean riding back to the future of last season. Were Dwyane Wade rocking a red Heat hot bomber jacket that was all “Great Scott” Marty McFly had his number three jersey under all that retired, as the Heat rose his 3 to the rafters in a flash.
After ‘One Last Dance’ for Dwyane last season were he swapped jerseys like trading cards, Wade and his former coach and President Pat Riley watched his last jersey go up past the nosebleeds to the ceilings he smashed, arm in arm like a proud father watching a home video of his sons wedding on the highlights of the jumbotron.
The relationship is exactly like that. Built on a fatherly foundation.
Miami has had a matrimony with Wade from the Chicago towns own All Star start, championship run on his own and then post Bulls and King reunion return to redemption.
Some may say Shaq. 90’s purists Zo Mourning and Timmy Hardaway. Others the greatest of all-time LeBron James forming like voltron with another Heatle that’s about to have his jersey retired, Chris Bosh. But let’s face it when it comes to Miami Heat players and franchise faces, D-Wade is the G.O.A.T.
Legacy. Legacy. L3gacy.
This is the way of Wade. How its been and how it will always been up in the air of those American Airlines. A father first and always part of the Miami family when the South Beach welcomed him like Will Smith, this guy is for life like Bad Boys and the number 3 that Martin Lawrence’s Marcus has framed in his own living room rafter raise for the latest sequel.
What you gonna do?
This was a Florida city union like pink or turquoise neon, or the ’till death do us part loyalty of ‘Bad Boys II’ and ‘LA Finest’ spin-off star Gabrielle Union. The port of Miami Rick Ross rocked the mic and even King James sent a video tribute from his Californian Lakerland as fellow retired club legends Chris Bosh and Ray Allen were in awe attendance.
“Life is good” Wade said like Nas for this two hour special that seemed ready made for an ESPN documentary. 30 for 30 or 3 for 3.
3 in ’03 to infinity for his sweet 16. The sun will never go down on the legendary legacy of Miami’s adopted son.
And in a tragic start to 2020, like Chi guy Wade embracing an emotional Allen Iverson in a Kobe number 8 tribute throwback this moment was the answer to the pain from our prayers.
Now all that is left is one last step to the Hall.