Woolard’s Words: Mamba Mentality

Early morning on Sunday Jan. 26, the world was turned upside down as it learned of the death of basketball great Kobe Bryant. Kobe along with his daughter and 7 others all died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California.

The death rocked the sports world, and it rocked me. Many great basketball players and athletes alike all paid tribute to the late Laker great. His death was unexpected and a reminder to the world to live every moment.

I’ve never considered myself a Kobe fan, but I found myself at a loss for words when I learned of his passing. He was everything you could hope to be. He was a star basketball player, an Oscar winner, a father, he really seemed to have it all.

Everything went away just like that. Kobe was healthy and full of life. Even though his career had ended, his life was really just starting. Kobe was only 41 years old. In his profession that’s considered to be very old but in terms of life Kobe hadn’t even scratched the surface of his capabilities. He won an Oscar with the short “Dear Basketball,” he established the Mamba sports academy and this was early in his retirement. Imagine what else he could have done.

Being a diehard Blazer fan, I wanted to hate Kobe. He was the best player on the Lakers and I naturally wanted to hate him. But I couldn’t. Not only couldn’t I hate him, I actually found myself supporting the guy. His work ethic and drive for the game were inspiring.

My favorite thing about Kobe was the shoes. Back in elementary school and into middle school I was a basketball  shoe connoisseur. I had Lebrons, a few pairs of Jordans and most importantly Kobe’s. In my opinion the Kobe 6 is the best basketball shoe ever created. The snake skin design, low tops, in a variety of colors. No Jordans or Lebrons could come remotely close to the perfection that is the Kobe 6.

The pair I owned was the zoom Kobe 6 All-Star 3D Hollywood edition. They had a dark gray exterior with blue and red finishes to emulate 3D glasses. Of course they had the iconic snake skin, which was made to look as though it was 3D. I felt so cool showing up to 3rd grade with those on my feet.

Kobe’s partnership with Nike was legendary. I thought cooler shoes could never be made. I was proved wrong. The Kobe 7 All star editions were made to look like some sort of space galaxy. And they were awesome. The outer exterior was amazing and had glow in the dark soles.

While Kobe was much more than a shoe salesman I wanted to credit him with his contributions to the basketball shoe industry and my personal upbringing. He was an essential part of Los Angeles and to the game of basketball as a whole.

The thing that shocked me the most about Kobe’s death was that he actually died. Growing up I’ve always seen Kobe as being invincible. Though I wasn’t his biggest fan, there was this unspoken understanding that Kobe was going to be one of the greatest ever.

I wasn’t a fan of his during his playing days, but he really grew on me during his retirement. He was a big champion of womens basketball and always had great things to say. He championed his daughter Gianna and could always be seen courtside at many WNBA games.

Kobe was an inspiring figure to so many as shown by all the love and support he is receiving in the wake of his death. He was an exceptional athlete, father and person. The Mamba Mentality will live on forever. Thank you Kobe for changing basketball and for changing the world. You’ll be missed.