Kobie Bryant And How We Cope

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

There are reflections, tributes, and the tears.  Kobie Bryant was definitely an icon and you don’t have to be a sports or NBA fan to realize what is going on here.

Kobie Bryant had an impact. 

The numbers, 8-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA team, NBA Most Valuable Player, leading scorer two seasons, fourth on the league’s all-time regular season scoring list and fourth all-time in postseason. 

And there was Kobie Bryant as the unofficial spokesperson to opening more doors for girls to play the game and the WNBA as a legitimate league. 

We mourn his untimely passing. We shed tears about the untimely passing of his 13-year old daughter and for the others in this tragic incident.  

Sunday was not supposed to happen. Not to Kobi Bryant, to you, me, family, friend, foe.  

But, we never expect to write about the passing of an icon in the prime of his life, and that my friends is tough to swallow,. Kobie Bryant, as we are aware, was like family.

We always look at the world of fun and games, sports, as that diversion from the trials and tribulations of everyday society. However, athletes are no different. They have families, pay the bills, laugh, cry, celebrate,

 But there is that distinction of doing something special on the field or in the arena. That, my friends was Kobie Bryant also. That’s what made him a part of our family. 

Like others, who left too soon, there are the questions as to why? How can this be? The reality. Kobie Bryant left a legacy. He was family to the NBA, sports, the world, nation, and to those in the inner city of America.

Allow this columnist to reflect about the passing of other sports icons with New York roots and beyond. The late Gil Hodges, Rocky Marciano, Roberto Clemente, Thurman Munson,  just a few that were difficult to comprehend.  

Stunned, we were then.  Hodges, manager of those 1969 Miracles and a fatal heart attack that took his life on a golf course. Clemente, a fatal tragedy on his humanitarian mission to help earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Gone too soon, Marciano, the undefeated heavyweight champion and Munson, the Yankees Captain. We will never forget their love for aviation and how they made their impact as sports icons.

We mourned than, as we do now for Kobie Bryant, And years later, as we do with others, Sunday January 26, 2020 will be a day to remember. 

So, what made Kobie Bryant the icon? It was more than breaking records and becoming an all-time NBA great for two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers.  

Kobie Bryant was always in that category with Clemente, Munson, Marciano, and others. Leader, role model,  hero, all attributes that we want our athletes to be.   

 Again a reflection  here. In the classroom, as Kobie Bryant continued to develop into this All- Star and potential Hall of Famer, the kids would always say “Kobie.”  They would emulate his moves on the court. 

It was that identity with becoming the next Kobie Bryant, as the kids do now, with calling out the name LeBron James.

“Polished with simple,” said John Guapo Maresca. “But you had to be an idiot to not admire what Kobie Bryant was,”

Kobie at the Staples Center, the house he built. Maresca, when he was training fighters in Los Angeles, one of those fans that had courtside seats. 

They became that unofficial family in the world of sports,  the same visions of supporting youth and their goals.

Monday, Maresca closed his boxing gym early in Rahway, New Jersey. The kids were too distraught to train. They mourned Kobie Bryant and raised two Lakers jerseys with numbers 8 and 24.

The reminder, those who play the game are role models. They become idols with their legacies.  It took weeks to get over those untimely deaths of Clemente, Marciano, and Munson.

You don’t have to be a fan to know, this will be a long period of adjustment, and it will take time to fully understand why Kobie Bryant is no longer with us.

But that legacy and memories of Kobie Bryant will always be here.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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