Kobe Did It His Way

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Like these little Kittitian cultural artistes, Kobe was introduced to basketball as a child (Photo: Peter Adrien)

Unbelievable! Exceptional! Unthinkable! Did he really do that? Did the Black Mamba have enough left in him to put on an unforgettable final show for his many Hollywood celebrities who paid thousands to see him for the last time?  Did Kobe Bryant at 37 really reacted “show time” on his last performance on the Hollywood stage, coming from behind and single-handedly winning the basketball game for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night 13 April 2016?  Yes, He did, and made history in the process!

Kobe Bryant did it his way! He played basketball his way; he did it for twenty years his way; and on the night of his last show, in the theatre – the Staple Center – he truly did it the “Kobe way!”

How fitting is the first stanza of Frank Sinatra hit song “I did it my way.”  Like Frank Sinatra, Kobe seemed to be saying: “And now, the end is near; And so I face the final curtain; My friend, I’ll say it clear; I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain; I’ve lived a life that’s full; I traveled each and every highway; And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

At the post match interview, Kobe said he has no regrets just the composer of the song said in the second stanza, “Regrets, I’ve had a few; But then again, too few to mention; I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption; I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway; And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

All who attended his classrooms in many of the arenas, will agree. All who saw his final game on Wednesday 13 April 2016 at the Staple Center, Los Angeles California will hail him as a legend. Kobe Bryant went out with a Hollywood ending to his remarkable career. Robert Hanashiro summed it well: “Kobe Bryant just played the best farewell game the NBA has ever seen. No player had ever scored 50 points in their final NBA game. Bryant just scored 60, singlehandedly powering the Lakers to a 101-96 win over the Jazz. He was the unfazeable master of the clutch, scoring 15 points in the game’s final 3:04 as the Lakers rallied back from a 96-84 deficit to beat Utah” ( Robert Hanashiro of USA TODAY, 14 April 2016)

The Staple Center is a prestigious entertainment center in the California, the arena has hosted many famous artistes and entertainers from different genres. And Kobe Bryant was one of the many greats who used this stage as his theater for twenty years. The “black mamba” was the prototypical showman at the Staple Center (what became “his house”) on what was rightfully dubbed, “Kobe’s Night.” He put on a final basketball clinic to the classroom of well-wishers and admirers, fans and fanatics, longstanding adversaries, celebrities (including Jack Nicholson), former basketball colleagues, coaches and technical staff, front office and back office, his current young Lakers students, and millions like me all over the world who stayed up or gave up their other competing interests to learn from the master craftsman.

And we were not disappointed. He played  42  minutes and scored a historic 60 points using every angles of the court; took all the more than 50 shots – long range and short range; made every move and tried every trick; took on every player – big or small; demonstrate all his repertoire – fade away; jumper; dunk; and block.  If Curry is a master of ball skill; Bryant is inventor of basketball skills. He taught how to dribble, pass, steal, wriggle between opponents, throw, shoot and control the ball. We saw a countless finely tuned moves including stepbacks, threes, finishes at the rim, the whole arsenal we’ve seen for the past 20 years.

As expected, the sold-out game was the most heavily covered regular season game in NBA history – more than double the number of press credentials were given out to media members from all over the world. And the number of persons outside watching on wide screens was far more than the 19,060 jammed in the Staple Center.  Tickets for the game are priced for as much as $25,000 on Stub Hub, which is the most expensive regular season ticket average for any sport ever. The millions all over the world who were privileged to attend were not disappointed. The Los Angeles Times, 13 April 2016 reported that many Chinese tourists who paid as much as $10,000 for a vacation package which provided exclusive access share the moment with their idol – a country where basketball is becoming a religion and Kobe Bryant is almost a god-like figure.

Kobe bonded himself to his fans forever. After outscoring the Jazz by himself 23-21 in the fourth quarter, Bryant checked out with 4.1 seconds left, serenaded by “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!” chants. We goodbye to a love/hate relationship. He was an unrelenting competitor. After starting 0-for-4, he finished with 60 points.

If the Lakers went 17-65 this season, one of the worst records in the NBA and the worst in Lakers history, Kobe Bryant, driven by the vision of the late Jim Buss, reignited the spirit of “Showtime” and handed the Lakers franchise the “winning baton” on Wednesday night 13 April 2016. He also left the management his lesson on leadership. An exceptional leader is a legacy-obsessed walking brand, dreaming, thinking and pursuing the “win” and never giving up when the going gets rough; going for the “win” even when the gas tank is getting empty!

Kobe is a symbol of vision, passion, determination, diligence, endurance and excellence; an athlete who hates mediocrity and a laisser-faire attitude with a passion (you can confirm with Derek Fisher, Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest (Meta World Peace), Dwight Howard, Lamar Odom, Phil Jackson, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, the present crop of Lakers young basket-ballers, and many other colleagues and technical staff). Diligence is critical for growth, development and prosperity. In Proverbs 22:29, Solomon says, “Do you see a man skillful and experienced in his work? He will stand [in honor] before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Kobe demonstrated that we don’t get things or do the exceptional by attempting the barest minimum; we excel because through hard work.

As he came off the court for the last time (14 seconds to the close of play), the cheers were loud but the tears were evident. It was a bitter-sweet evening as the world was saying farewell to the great athlete. Farewell, Kobe; best wishes Black mamba; see you later in another capacity, Bryant. We shall miss you on the court; and the game of basketball, and “show time” shall never be the same again!

In retrospection, how did a boy of 17 carry through his life a productivity routine that separated him from the ordinary? Bryant is the son of a former NBA player, Joe Bryant, who introduced him to basketball when he was 3 years old – his favorite team was the Los Angeles Lakers. What can our children, youngsters and young adults; young male and female amateurs and professionals learn from Kobe Bryant? Even with the absence of father-figures in the home, can’t our children still learn from his training, work and life routines (goggle Kobe Bryant)? And for us adults, can’t we apply his spirit of enterprise in our projects, programs and undertakings? Remember, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13, NIV.

Peter Adrien is an author, business coach, financial counselor, economic adviser and columnist. Visit: www.goadriens.com. Contact him via email: peter@goadriens.com; phone: (869) 668-9752 (St Kitts & Nevis) or (305) 848-7604 (USA); twitter: @goadriens; facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Goadriens

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