I was sitting down in my local coffee shop, getting ready to write a pretty arcane blogpost about technology and aesthetics, when I learned that Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and unidentified others died in a helicopter crash. Suddenly I didn’t feel like writing that post.
Like many of you, I feel deeply shocked, sad, and confused. My heart aches for him and his family. Yet, what feels truly strange—considering that I obviously didn’t know this man personally at all—is that I also feel a sense of personal loss.
Many of you who know me, know that I am a huge NBA fan. I don’t have a team I love—I simply love the rhythm of the game, the tension of close competition, and the players who bring their own unique spirit and skill to the sport. I’m that meme of Rob Lowe in the NFL hat, only for basketball. I just a fan of the game.
Kobe Bryant never qualified as my favorite player. That title has been reserved for Reggie Miller in the late 90s, Jason “white chocolate” Williams in the early 2000s, Tracy McGrady that one game he scored 13 points on the Spurs in 33 seconds, Steve Nash in the late 2000s, and LeBron James during the 2010s. Yet during the entire duration of my NBA watching life, Kobe Bryant has been constant presence. He was a force of nature on the court, and remained visibly close and meaningful to the game after his retirement in 2016. I literally do not know the game of basketball without Kobe Bryant in it.
He was the epitome of strength, skill, and confidence. He was the consummate alpha male on and off the court. He never flinched, never shied away from a challenge, and never succumbed to any weakness. He seemed to have a supernatural power—he seemed to be more than human. He was Kobe—a spirit you can channel on any court in the world. “Kobe!” Swish.
And this is why it is utterly shocking and mind-bending that he is gone. The person that seemed beyond human, went and did the most human and vulnerable thing possible.
I don’t think that there is much of a silver lining to be gleaned in any of this. Pardon my french, but sometimes things are just completely fucked up.
What can be gleaned, however, is inspiration and truth. The truth is, Kobe Bryant was not super-human. He was a man who worked incredibly hard to become great at the thing he loved doing. And while most of us could never dream of reaching the heights that Kobe did, we can all find peace and pleasure in following his lead, and working hard at the art, craft, or skill that we love.
I had planned to post the song that I recorded this week, but considering the moment, I think it is fitting to post a different song of mine. A song about loss: