Yesterday’s final Laker game of the season was INSANE! Even watching on TV at home, you could feel the electricity in the room at Staples Center. It was a bittersweet day to see Kobe Bryant play for 1 last time.
I’ve been a Laker fan since I was a little kid (I’ll admit though, I was a huge Bulls fan during the Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen/Dennis Rodman era). My parents had the pleasure of meeting some of the Laker greats like Jerry West quite often. They went to Laker games and got to sit in great seats (lucky!). They even got the Lakers Cookbook (1985) for me as a gift from Jerry West’s wife and got some of the players to sign it!
To this day basketball is the only sport I really understand. I wasn’t much of a sports girl, just dancing. But basketball, I understand. My dad played and when I was really young (we’re talking 4 years old young) I would go with him to his games every once in a while. I remember when I would go and I would have to go to the boys bathroom so my dad could go with me. Yup, embarrassing. When we would watch basketball together in the kitchen on our little TV in the corner I would ask him why players would do what they do and he would explain. Throughout the years he’d tell me about the strategy of professional basketball, what happens when the ball goes out of bounds, about fouls, free throws, the different positions players play, how important defense is, Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, all the other teams with their Hack-a-Shaq strategy…he told me all about it.
When Kobe joined the Lakers I was 11 years old. I remember watching him and thinking (cue 90’s teenage girl accent) “This guy is young! He’s cool!” I remember seeing pictures of him and Brandy in my Teen Beat and Bop magazines when they went to prom lol. For most of the years of my life, Kobe was part of the Lakers. My team, our team. I watched him play from my pre-teens, to my teenage years, to my twenties, and now my thirties. Kobe was a huge part of the Lakers in my life time. Even if you base his career just on that you have to understand why this is a big deal for all the Laker fans in my generation. But how can you just base his greatness on longevity? You can’t possibly with these stats.
As a Laker fan you did’t know what to expect for Kobe’s last game. Were the Lakers going to win? How long would Kobe play? Who was going to show up in support? What was he going to say? How were the fans going to react?
What an amazing way to go out. 60 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. I was completely blown away. I didn’t know if he would be able to make it through the whole game. I could see the fatigue in his face as the game went on but he didn’t want to sit down. 42 minutes. I was screaming and cheering the entire time like I always do.
Today is a somber day for us Laker fans. #MambaDay has come and gone, and now we face the scary truth of what the future of the Laker franchise holds. The future of our team without one of the greatest players to play in the NBA. Thanks for 20 memorable years Kobe.