Kobe's Gone

by Avery Pierce

Good morning! Cold ain’t it? You're in luck, they just put on a fresh pot of coffee. Personally, I never liked the flavor but it always does the trick on a rough day. You new? Never seen your face 'round here before. But then again I’ve never been good with faces, so please don’t hold it against me if this ain’t the first time we met. Oh, you just moved to Queensville. Wonderful! Well, this is the best dinner in town, I promise you that. Just don’t get the grits, it’s like buttered sawdust.

So, you heard the news? ‘Bout Kobe? Yeah, crazy. It’s a wild world, never know what's going to happen. Hard to believe. A helicopter crash. Really? Bet he took that ride a hundred times. Can’t believe it. Gone before Bill Russell or Bird. Shoot, gone before Odom. No sense in that. Just one of those guys you never think about dying. Really was more myth than man. Figured he’d outlive us all. But he was mortal, same as you and I. I’m telling you there ain’t no point in trying to understand it, just ain’t no point in trying to understand life.

Remember the 2010 finals? Celtics vs Lakers? I was a kid ‘round then, but I remember. Sure enough. Felt like it was the most important thing in the world. This storied rivalry, all these Hall of Famers going at it, Kobe’s revenge for ‘08. Everyone knew it was going to be a war and it was, nastiest series I ever saw. Kinda thing you never forget. Plus my dad is a big Lakers fan, has been since before Magic was playing. When the Lakers came back to win game 7 that was the first time I saw him cry.

Wasn’t a Laker fan growing up though. Can’t root for a city I ain’t from. But I was a Kobe fan, just like everyone else. When I started playing I copied his shot, knee dip and everything. ‘Course when I played the ball never seemed to go in. Still don’t, to be honest. But I’m still trying. That was Kobe’s whole thing right? Trying. He wasn’t the biggest or the fastest, but he never quit. Worked like a dog. You heard the stories right? ‘Bout him getting up at 3am to go for a run. Or how he would shoot a thousand free throws every day? I saw this video of him once, where he was lifting weights at 11pm. He had just played a game too. That’s what Kobe was, to me at least. Effort. That if you were willing to get up and put the hours in, you could be Kobe too.

Now, looking back, I don’t know if all that’s true. Time has done it’s number on me, as it does to us all. But hey, it’s easy to learn the wrong lesson. Especially when you're young.

The case, yeah, the case. Now, I always figured he did it. Especially after that apology letter came out. He said as much. I’ve been wrestling with that for a decade now, I suppose. Still don’t know what to say. Guess I haven’t been thinking hard enough. You ever wonder how that girl feels now, huh? Whole world’s crying over the man who hurt you like that, don’t want to speak for her but I would hate it. It ain’t fair, that's for sure. No justice to it. Must make me a hypocrite huh? I’m crying over Kobe just like everyone else. Suppose I owe her an apology.

I don’t like it. Feeling this way I mean. I don’t like that the death of a man I’ve never met left me in tears, but it did. Don’t make no sense, I’ll admit. I know I’m too old for all this. Should have left the whole “heroes” thing behind, thought I had but I guess not. I shoulda dumped Kobe along with Cosby and the rest, shoulda did it years ago. But I can’t. That’s wrong of me. But it is what it is. Probably a better way to put it, but that’s all I got. There isn’t a string of words you could divine that can change the way I feel right now, I promise you that.

Ahhh, I’ve been rambling again. My bad. Always talking like it’s just you and I. I’ll stop bothering you. I gotta head out now anyway. Have a good day and, seriously, I wasn’t playing about the grits.

You can find more of Avery Pierce's work at averyhpierce.com and on Twitter @averyhpierce.

Image: Neomicro. Edited and republished under the Creative Commons license.