I was sitting in a The Cheesecake Factory – my first time and long on my to do list to check out, and towards the end of the dinner – as often happens because I do not keep a television in the main rooms of my home, I became transfixed with what was on the television. It happens sometimes as I do not make television a major part of my life, maybe not even a minor one, just an occasion one.
Yet, it was not the fact that television grabbed my attention- it was what had been on the news constantly this past week – Kobe Bryant. Despite what you feel, say and have heard, I was transfixed with Spike Lee’s- Kobe Bryant’s Doin’ Work. I thought I was transfixed with Kobe Bryant’s Dear Basketball, but I found myself lost in the complicated thoughts on court of this Spike Lee documentary. It was absolutely fascinating to see the dialogue and Bryant’s every step, every shot, every moment as he reviews each moment on the court. This is something we rarely get to see step by step- and yet- the thoughts you see regarding life, philosophy, this teammates, his family, all that come out while on the court, you get an idea of how fast our brains can think in a single event, let alone moment, and the fascinating facets that Kobe Bryant thought of during just one specific game of his whole life.
Waking up Saturday morning, and listening to a specific interview and insight into Kobe’s legacy, it dawned on me. I, of course, have heard and understand it is easy to side with the camp that one sports icon dies tragically and people dwell on that individual and easily forget about the individuals that die every day fighting for our country, victims of abuse, etc., and of course I get that.
Coming initially from an all academic background and then slowly becoming more involved and seeing the power of sports, I have evolved in my philosophies through the years and see the pull and power sports have to bring people together and improve other parts of their life when moderation of several areas work together, and being smart about all of them. I have come to terms with the realization that focusing on one single component of your life is not always, and usually not, the best practice. The best practice is to allow yourself time to focus on many areas of your life, good and bad.
It is easy to focus on Kobe Bryant as an icon and ignore the parts of his life that were not so celebratory and yet, if we as individuals are true to ourselves, it is just as important to focus on Kobe Bryant’s life in the areas he made mistakes, the abuse he realized was responsible for and the realization he did not realize that he did in fact hurt another – and the fact he did come to terms with this, made his realization public and owned it, not denying it. Does that make him a better person for it? I think that is a stretch but this I do know, his magnification as a sports icon allowed his stand for women in sports, for women to be treated and heard equally, for his passion and love of sports to filter down to supporting his daughter and devotion to taking that fame and using it to support his family – yeah – you can appreciate Kobe Bryant for being a sports star or appreciate that Kobe Bryant used his sports status to appeal to each of us of how we take we he stood for, and appreciate those that might not be “stars” but no reason why we can’t take that same appreciation and apply it to those ordinary heroes around each of us – military, security, the everyday person that applies an intelligent, brave, and heroic approach to all that they do for every one of us every day.
We can be better people ourselves, and to others from others, especially when their mistakes are magnified. We are better people if we take those examples to better ourselves, and others, instead of vilifying for them.
I have become more aware of the legacy and intelligence Kobe maintained on and off the court, and personally realize position helps to spread various platforms that will help improve each of us as well as our country as a whole – those of us that do have not the celebrity platform can make a choice, sit back and critique everything that happens around us and explain away that we are too young, too old, too busy, and on an on, OR make every day involve one check on a checklist that will compile to improve our day and the days of the world around us.
If you take enough time, you can definitely see the evolution of Kobe Bryant from cocky and somewhat egotistical swagger we often assign to sports players often, to the transformation and realizations Kobe made along the way, that supported causes, issues, and platforms that mattered more then Kobe Bryant did, and it is there. Those lessons of a talented sports individual, both the positive and negative, help us and the world around us grow and become better individuals and communities. You and I can both walk away and decide there are better people than Kobe Bryant to weep and lament over and yet, if we look closely at Kobe Bryant’s life, we can see a message he told beyond his love of basketball that each of us can take away and spread among many we admire, many we do not show enough admiration to, and those we still have much work to show how much we admire. We have that challenge before each of us, what we choose to do with that opportunity will make all the difference, in the world.