I was never a huge Kobe fan. I had a #8 jersey in elementary school and did a project on him for class in 3rd grade, but Vince Carter was my favorite player growing up. Unfortunately, the Raptors never won a championship and the most notable moment of his career was probably winning the dunk contest in 2000 when he stuck his arm in the rim. Regardless, Kobe’s final game with the Lakers gave me #AllTheFeels. I literally felt as if I was a teenage girl watching the credits roll after the The Notebook. Seeing the video introductions and the tributes from other players, especially those from Lamar Odom (seriously almost teared up seeing him after all that he has gone through) and Pau Gasol (I was unaware of the special bond between those two), really allowed me to see just how much larger than life Kobe was. I do not think it is an exaggeration with the impact that he has had on the international game, to say he is the most influential basketball player of all time. Seeing him put up 60 in his final game – incredible!! When he hit the three pointer late in the game to cut the Jazz lead to one and then the shot to take the lead, I felt as if I was watching a playoff game. It was that exciting. He is the Michael Jordan of my generation. As someone who can only remember Jordan playing with the Wizards, he is the most successful basketball player that I have ever seen step out on to the court.
Stars from my childhood are slowly fading away. A year-and-a-half ago Derek Jeter played his final game as a Yankee and just a couple months ago Peyton Manning rode into the sunset with a Super Bowl victory. Now Kobe is gone. In only a matter of months, we will have to say goodbye to Michael Phelps as he climbs out of the pool for the final time.Thea athletes will be remembered as some of the most iconic figures of the 2000s – the first decade of my sports watching career.. One after one they are moving on to their post playing career. Man I feel old.
Thinking about all of this had me feeling so nostalgic. I began to reflect back to my earliest sports memories
- Super Bowl XXXV in 2001 when the Ravens beat the Giants
- The NBA Finals in 2001 when the Lakers beat the Sixers. I distinctly remember watching game one which the Sixers won in overtime. It was light outside so it must have been a weekend.
- The college basketball championship in 2002 when Maryland beat Indiana. We were at a hotel in Williamsburg. I fell asleep before it was over.
- The 2001 college football BCS championship (Rose Bowl) when Miami beat Nebraska. I had to watch the second half after school the next day because my parents wouldn’t let me stay up. I’m not too biter. It was a blowout.
Then I thought back to some of the greatest sports moments I have watched.
- The 2002 college football BCS Championship (Fiesta Bowl) where Ohio State beat Miami in double overtime. We were on my grandmas screened in porch watching on a TV barely bigger than my lap top. I can remember them replaying Willis McGahee’s torn ACL over and over again. My dad couldn’t watch it.
- Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl in 2002, number XXXVI. I’m ashamed to say that I really liked him back then.
- George Mason’s Final Four run in 2006.
- Super Bowl XLII in 2008 when where David Tyree made a miraculous catch and the Giants beat the undefeated Patriots.
- The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Michael Phelps 8 medals. especially his 100m fly, Jason Lezak’s epic finish in the 4×100 free relay. Usain Bolt’s records.
- The 2013 Iron Bowl. Forget the ending. That was the greatest football game I have ever seen. We were in my grandparent’s basement.
- The college basketball National Championship just a couple weeks ago. I will never forget Marcus Paige or Kris Jenkins. “Onions. Double order. Sauteed.”
I have goosebumps watching these highlights.
I know i haven’t mentioned the other team that was going for a record at the same time as Kobe’s farewell. That was intentional. I will get there. Don’t worry.
After watching the National Championship a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t sleep. I just laid in my bed thinking about how special sports are. I probably watched Kris Jenkins’s shot about 30 times before I fell asleep. I was memorized. I couldn’t wrap my head around what had just happened. “Thank God for sports”, I thought. Man I am thankful for sports.
Then nine days later watching Kobe’s final game, I learned another lesson. I have a tendency to just check boxes. I do not savor things very well. but while watching, I felt this sense of finality that I have never had watching sports. Sure seasons end, but this was different. Part of me just wanted to watch Kobe’s final game, just so I could say I watched it. There were no playoff implications The game didn’t really mean much, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t watch it, so I watched. Instead of just watching to watch, however, I got caught up in the moment. I thought I was just going to watch the introductions and a couple of minutes before flipping over to the other game that everyone was talking about. I did switch back and forth between the games, but I found myself not wanting Kobe’s game to end. I began savoring every shot he took.
So when I watch the Warriors this post season, I will savor every moment like an expensive steak or fine wine. I will remember how special it really is and will try to remain grateful for the experience. This is the greatest team and most fun team to watch in any sport, college or professional, that I can remember. There will never be another Kobe and there will never be another team like these Warriors. They are a work of art. I just want to sit in awe of how incredible they are. Do yourself a favor and watch them as much as possible during these playoffs. And just sit and enjoy it. Savor every Steph Curry three. With injuries and free agency, you never know how long this greatness will last.
I used to not understand why my dad would watch reruns of gamest that happened 30 years ago on ESPN classic. Why does he want to watch a Lakers vs. Celtics game from the ’80s. You already know what happened. Now I get it. That is going to be me in 30 years, watching Warriors vs Spurs games that I already know the outcome of.