5,4,3,2,1 ... Kobe!
It has been five days since my son told me that Kobe Bryant had died. We were sitting in my truck waiting to go into a football training session (for him, not me), and he happened to be on his phone when the news broke.
Like just about everyone else, I said, "no, that can't be true." Unfortunately, as we found out later in the day, it was.
While Kobe Bryant was indeed a great basketball player, he was also a devoted father, husband and a gifted storyteller. As this article in the New Yorker thoroughly examines, Kobe Bryant wanted to tell stories through the lens of basketball, but not necessarily stories about basketball. He knew the power sports can have on people. So he used sports as a vehicle to tell stories about love, loss, childhood, and other relatable topics.
He was very much on his way to being remembered, too, for more than his basketball prowess as he accepted an Oscar for his animated short. While the storyline of the short featured basketball, he was really telling us a story about hope, challenges, and opportunities. It is a story that we can all relate to as we think back on our childhoods. There was always that one thing that we wanted to be, wanted to do when we "grew up." For Kobe Bryant, it was basketball - or, how he fell in love with the game as a child, fueling his desire to be the player be eventually became.
There are certainly other examples of his storytelling abilities ... the conversation he had with Jimmy Kimmel about his late daughter Gigi being the heir to his basketball legacy ... or explaining why he took a helicopter to events so that he could see his kids. Each of these - and other stories - struck an emotion, hit a chord - that all of us can relate to. It wasn't about Kobe Bryant himself, but rather how he wanted to connect with us by connecting with his family and telling stories about them.
By now, we probably have thought about what our Kobe Bryant "story" is - what's that connection. For me, it's my boys and their friends when they were younger, all saying "Kobe!" as they played basketball, goofing off and pretending they - like Kobe Bryant - had 5 seconds, then 4, then 3, 2, 1 ... to make the shot and when the game, shouting ... Kobe! ... as the ball falls through the basket - just like a pair of rolled-up socks going into a trash can.