If you know me well, you know I am a huge basketball fan. Both of my boys loved basketball, and so did my dad, Johnny McDade. I grew up a Boston Celtics fan. I was not a fan of the Lakers. I didn’t hate them, but there was no love loss.
However, I was huge Shaq fan, and when he became a Laker I rooted for them. I didn’t care too much for Kobe. Then the feud started, and Shaq left because of Kobe. I hated Kobe Bryant because of it. I pulled for every team he played against. He beat them all.
I was a huge Michael Jordan fan, and when people compared him to Mike I was like, “You have to be kidding!” He just kept being Kobe, quiet and reserved until he hit the floor. He took everyone apart like a skilled surgeon. He had no flaws. I think deep down I was jealous of how good he was at the game. Mike Krzyzewski said he learned more from Kobe Bryant about preparation than from anyone else in basketball. Coach K is my all-time favorite.
I watched Kobe’s last game. He dropped 60 points. He was simply unstoppable. He was amazing. I found myself cheering for the man I had despised for so many years.
I had no idea how his death would effect me. I have wept like we were friends more than once over the last few days. A man I despised won me over in the end. RIP Kobe Bryant, you will go down in history as one of the greatest athletes this planet has ever witnessed.
Even as I write, I feel the deep sense of loss. Basketball want be the same for me for a while.