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Rest in Peace, Kobe Bean Bryant

I will never forget the day.

What started as a beautiful morning in Cabo, celebrating with my Vaco teammates a wonderful year, turned in to a really difficult afternoon.

My heart sunk when one of my teammates walked by Christie and I's pool chairs and broke the news - Kobe was gone. It couldn't be. I felt so helpless learning a few minutes later that Kobe's daughter, GiGi, was also gone. I wanted nothing more than to be home to see my boys and hug them as tightly as I could - it truly made me never want to not be with my wife and kids again.

As a 10-year old, I watched Kobe become the youngest player ever in the NBA. Simply put, I wanted to be like Kobe, in much the same way I wanted to be like Mike when I started religiously watching basketball in the late 80's. Kobe, also much like Mike, had that infectious smile that made you want to get to know him on a personal level.

After Mike but before Kobe, my favorite player was Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq was the guy that I wrote my letters to in elementary school. I was so excited when the two linked in Los Angeles, after seeing Shaq come up short in Orlando. During the LA run, I began to see the difference in Kobe versus most (if not all) of his peers. There was a rift, and the rift kept growing. But it wasn't Shaq's side I took.

I, too, was frustrated with Shaq like Kobe was. How could Shaq not take care of himself in the off-season? How could Shaq come to camp not ready to compete at the highest level? How could Shaq then minimize Kobe's criticism versus looking in the mirror and realizing that it was Shaq, himself, who needed a mindset change? I understood Kobe's frustrations, and I also was supportive of the fact that Kobe's expectations wouldn't be lowered for anyone.

If Kobe was not going to lower his expectations of Shaq, then I certainly was not going to lower my expectations for anyone. It was around this time that I began to hold my teammates more accountable on and off the court. Those around me did not always understand why I was so serious, why I was the first and last in the gym, why I yelled at people much faster than me who did not run sprints to their fullest capabilities. But I wasn't going to change for acceptance, I was fine not being friends with all of my teammates. It was on them to learn how to compete consistently at the level I expected, or they would continue to hear

Aside from the personal sadness that many including myself around the world feel, I am saddened that we won't get to hear Kobe talk basketball until he is old and grey. He was perhaps the greatest basketball mind of the generation, and he was assuredly going to navigate his way in coaching, ownership and management - his love for the game was going to keep him close at all times.

I strongly suggest checking out the first (and now unfortunately, only) season of Detail on ESPN+, where Kobe dissects the game of a selected player in great detail. One of my favorite up-and-coming players for the past few years has been Pascal Siakam, a bandwagon I've been on since the start. In one episode of Detail, Kobe reviewed the work of Siakam, and boy, did I ever feel schooled.

I will forever be a student to Kobe's teachings.

  • Never lower your expectations of yourself or others.

  • Demand greatness. Hold others accountable when they cannot.

  • Take your craft seriously.

  • Bring consistency every day.

  • Do what you love, love what you do.


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