In Memory of the Mamba – Remembering Kobe Bryant

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PHOTO BY MANILA/WIKICOMMONS

By Edward Soper, MANAGING EDITOR
The world of basketball was forever changed on Sunday, Jan. 26 when we lost all-time great Kobe Bryant. Bryant was one of nine people who perished in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Affectionately known as “The Black Mamba” or simply just “Kobe”, his impact on this world extended far beyond the basketball court. His daughter Gianna, aka “Gigi” or “Mambacita,” also lost her life in this tragic accident.
The National Basketball Association announced Jan. 27 that Bryant will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame as a member of the 2020 class, most likely alongside players like Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett.
On the court, Bryant had 20 outstanding seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant led the Lakers to seven NBA Finals appearances, and won five titles for the city of Los Angeles. Along the way, he collected two NBA Finals MVP Awards, an NBA MVP Award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, four All-Star Game MVP Awards, 15 First Team All-NBA Team Selections, 12 First Team All-Defense Selections, an NBA All-Rookie Team Selection, and an NBA Slam Dunk Contest Championship.
Though his impact on the court was huge, Bryant’s impact off the court was much bigger. Kobe has inspired countless basketball players and had millions of fans across the globe. He was instrumental in the promotion of the Womens’ National Basketball Association, and was perhaps the league’s biggest supporter. Kobe also made numerous strides in his philanthropic work. Bryant worked with outstanding organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer, Cathy’s Kids, After School All-Stars, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, and LeBron James’ I Promise School.
NBA players have been mourning and remembering Bryant in many different ways in the days following his passing. Teams intentionally took 8-second and 24-second shot clock violations in his memory. NBA players have also began informally retiring both #8 and #24 to honor Bryant’s impact on the game. Among the players to do this are Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who will now wear #26, Orlando Magic forward Terrence Ross, now #31, and New Orleans Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor and who is still unsure what his new number will be. There is also a petition in circulation to change the NBA logo, making Bryant the outlined player.
Numerous players have offered their sentiments to the late, great Black Mamba.

PHOTO BY MANILA/WIKICOMMONS

LeBron James’ tribute to Kobe was perhaps the most powerful. “I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I’m sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! Man I love you big bro,” James said as he remembered Bryant via Instagram, as he said, “My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life #Gigi4Life”
Bryant’s long-time teammate and friend Shaquille O’Neal also paid tribute to his fallen friend via Twitter. “There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of loosing my niece Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW,” O’Neil said, “Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.”
Bryant’s memory will live on through the people he impacted. In Valenzuela City, Philippines a basketball gym will forever bear his name. House of Kobe was named in honor of the basketball great approximately a week before his passing but has become a gathering place to mourn and honor Bryant’s memory. Bryant was a hero in the Philippines, where basketball is the national sport and The Black Mamba was an icon. However, the most common way we will all honor the basketball legend is the involuntary mention of his name when throwing a crumpled ball of paper into a trash can. Next time you need to throw something away, put a little emphasis into your “KOBE!” so that we can carry on the legacy and memory of the Lakers legend.
The helicopter crash also claimed the lives of Minor League Baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester; Mamba Academy basketball coach Christina Mauser; and pilot Ara Zobayan.
The game of basketball and the entire sports community will never be the same. The Pioneer staff would like to extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families.