As we kick off Mamba Week 2020, I wanted find a way to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant. For me, that’s through the sneakers he wore. The impact he left on my life was huge and the journey I took from hating his guts to respecting him as a man and basketball player is unique. Through specific moments in Kobe’s career and life, we’ll see what it means to “Be Legendary” as we take a look back on the legacy Kobe left.
June 17, 2010
Seconds were ticking off the clock as the ball floated through the air towards the opposite basket. 3 seconds had elapsed as the ball hit the ground and bounced once before Kobe “Bean” Bryant finally swooped it up. He raised one finger in the air and time ran out. The Lakers were champions. It was one of the worst days of my young life. My Boston Celtics had lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in that 2010 Finals. It was a chance for my Celtics to win an NBA record 18th championship. Instead, I sat there as the Lakers swarmed Kobe to celebrate the franchise’s 16th championship with confetti falling to the floor.
I’ve hated the Lakers since the day I was born. As a result, I hated Kobe too. I called him a ball hog, a stat chaser and a bad teammate. However, when you grow up in Southern California, Kobe becomes a part of your life whether you want him to or not. As I’ve gotten older, I realized how much of Kobe permeated into my own game. From the jab steps to the fall aways and the mid range game….all that comes from him. Between the years of 2008-2012, I would have said Paul Pierce was my favorite NBA player. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say Kobe had the biggest influence on me though. Through hate, I learned to love him.
A Sneakerhead is Born
Something else happened to me in those 2010 Finals. I became a sneakerhead. My collection began during college. I was living on my own for the first time and working my first job. For that reason, it was hard to say no to a new pair of sneakers. As Kobe ran that ball down in the final seconds that June day, I looked at his feet and saw his Nike “Big Stage” Kobe V’s. They were beautiful. I could see the gold swoosh shining bright as the confetti dropped around them. They were low top and all white with gold accents. It looked like a sneaker a Greek god should be wearing. I was conflicted, but I knew I wanted them. As “Mamba Week 2020” approaches, let’s take a look at the impact Kobe had on my basketball life and on my sneaker collection.