The many lives and legacies of Kobe Bryant

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at any given time there are probably no more than a couple of dozen people who were known to the planet by first name. Only it feels like that should be an honor that the world decides to grant to somebody but it's not it's the result survey singular person resting that name away from everyone else making a surname unnecessary by sheer force of personality or will L. or excellence or notoriety or all four of those like Kobe. The and be loved the feeling of being a five time chip even people who are known by only one name during their lifetime are humans though they might seem like legends alleges. That means that they aren't perfect but it also means that they're not the same person forever they might be frozen in one place in our minds and our memories but that's us. It's not even as people like Kobe. Exist in this strange Pantheon there's still changing still evolving. Their story is still being written or at least it should be but the other side of the human behind the legend is that that means they are ultimately just as frail as the rest of us and that too is a reminder that no matter outer wear any of us think we are in the long story of our lives. There's always a chance that without knowing it we are writing the final chapter. Why did you decide to write this book about a girl playing tennis? I have four girls at home and I WANNA make sure some poor at happy you'll see characters that look like them and the Oscar goes to Dear Basketball Glenn. Everything I've learned came from Kobe. Everything take Kobe away. I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have love or whatnot impression to drive everything everything. I'll make that chapter account like Kobe I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the big story Donovan. Bennett of sports net. Someone usually talk to happier times in the sporting world. Hello Donovan Hello here once again not a feel good story unfortunately no but why don't you start because you've been covering basketball and probably been a fan of basketball a lot longer. What's your first memory of hearing the name Kobe? I mean my first first memory. I guess would be like Kobe and brandy going to the prom together. Like that's how young literally he was when he became a one name. Person Right the Hobie and brandy the biggest one of the biggest female popstars. R&B Singers in the world and Kobe. Right the still a flourishing basketball player. But he wasn't yet a an all star and all time great but he was already a celebrity in even the myth of him started early. Those talks about him in the draft process. Having this amazing mazing workout that Jerry West someone. WHO's not big on hyperbole? Kind of Saint Louis. I haven't seen anything like this and especially a kid coming out of high the school at the time and almost basically wanting to stop the workout immediately just because he didn't want it to get out how well it was going in you know in a way trying to tank you know Kobe's value and the trade that happens between Charlotte and the Lakers and Co basically saying. I don't WanNa be a Hornet. Because because he knew the Lakers were in on him and he wanted to be a Laker. He had seen their games on tape delay growing up in Italy where his dad was was playing as a pro. Oh that's part of the mythos of him that he wanted. Hollywood you Harry from the beginning from from a very young age right in this was before we saw high school school mixed tapes of players on Instagram and we knew what a force Zion Williamson or RJ. Or even Lebron James were right. This was really l. e. like all you're hearing is just rumors and Innuendo in. There wasn't really great footage and so he for good and for bad had ushered in this wave of players coming straight out of high school so much so that later we had to course correct and say well no. We can't have of these players coming from high school as readily because they're all not Kobe Bryant and Kobe in a way became like a big brother to those a young guys. Yeah Tracy McGrady talked about the fact that he would go out and stay at his house L. A. and they would train together and we'll get into it in this conversation in and he is a fully formed complex person like I think when we look at celebrities we look at them in his linear way on a time line. Just look at their Kapadia beds. They did this. They did this this and then they died and of story where they're they're complex in Kobe. When you think about him you think of fierce competitor wanted to do everything you think twin and that doesn't really compute with him being a mentor? Being someone who's willing to give his time. Some of them might have been ego just in fact I love that people are coming to me as the resource of how to get better in basketball but certainly he was a reference point for players later in his generation for players after his generation. Today I think that is a big part of his legacy. What happened on Sunday? Okay tell me about the crash first of all but the hours following that when There were a whole bunch of stories out there and nobody. He seemed to know exactly what had happened. And what was going on around the league at that time. Think why it hits so hard one of the reasons is because of how and when it happened so Sunday I mean theoretically that's like a family day on the weekend middle the day Sunday anyways. I was literally with my family having Brunch with a brother other than my mother and my young son and I just got home and I'm getting tax from my brother blowing up my phone and I was like I literally just saw you. What could be so I urgent and this is something that happens in our time? I don't know if it happens to you but it certainly happens to me when you get a text with just someone's name you automatically think the worst you think either death or some sort of scandal and sadly in this case it was the first one it was death and my brother was trying to verify that Kobe had actually died as if I was going to be able to tell them but just at that moment you're looking for any sort of reason to to say. Hopefully this is not true and someone who worked in sports. Naturally the text came to me and then soon as you go online. And you see the Tim's these reporting it I got it just assume at this point that it's real and it's probably true when they broke Michael Jackson first before anyone else all right. They're kind of undefeated at this. And it's just the news of Wall. Who else was there? Was Vanessa. There were his kids. There was five. People wasn't nine. People was Rick Fox. There was something that was happening on the Internet and so that whole part of it is uncomfortable because you're hearing different people confirm things. There are conflicting. So someone's wrong. You don't want to jump to any conclusions but the same point. I'm thinking weird. If I'm rooting that G G his thirteen year old daughter is not on the chopper. Because then I'm just hoping that someone else that I don't know is in so the whole thing being from the coverage to how the information was disseminated slowly throughout the afternoon made me feel uncomfortable and made me feel sad that you don't one of the greatest players of all time you know. His last memory will be trending for the wrong reason. Tell me about the reaction around the MBA is. The news broke yesterday. There were games being played. Just tipping off like an hour later. Yeah in this was US another part of the debate that was going online and reporting that was being done was whether or not they were going to play the Games and the conversations that were being had at the League office level in the tricky part again is because since the information was so raw and was tough to verify. Tough has the league to make a decision. A and I was watching the timeline and so the news started breaking on twitter. I don't know when. TMZ found out but it started breaking on twitter around twenty to thirty the raptors and spurs were set to off at four PM Eastern so there was about ninety minutes in there and CNN was talking about a crash but not naming the name and then they named name In in so you're not really sure. At what point would you give it. I actually think they should've played the games. I might be not alone in that thought for an entirely. Different reason in a way the precedent that it sets. If you don't play the game for Kobe where where do you draw that line of okay. Well you're not as important. You're not as influential. You didn't make as big of an impression on the basketball world so we can still play in light of your death. He he didn't die in a tragic enough manner right past. You passed away after a long illness. So we're not stopping the game. Yeah I mean David Searle sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago and he. It was older and was not the act of commissioner and was in a tough health situation for a little while so people had prepped for it but still died. He's still had a massive massive impact on the game. And so I felt that it was handled well in that the teams in credit to the raptors who had the first possession and Kyle lowry dribbling out the clock. Honor Kobean his twenty four taking a twenty four second violation and then Rick Popovich instructed his team to do the same I thought they the handled it beautifully in the Atlanta. Hawks did it with their own spin. I thought the League handled it beautifully. N I suppose it would be different. If the Lakers had to play Kobe toby was figure that was bigger than basketball. Bigger than sport. Why was he bigger than sports? And here I want you to talk a little bit about how he played the game. And I don't mean his his basketball XS and OS. But it was the spirit of what he did that. Everybody from people like Alicia keys to Tennis players and other athletes elites discussed yesterday. Yes so he was divisive at the best of times and I think even history look back at the way he played now that we look at the game differently in think defensively on how good he actually was but no matter if you liked him or disliked him for those who are people respected him as a sportsman as an athlete competitor. And we all have this internal conversation in our heads. How far my going to push myself? How desperate I do I want a chief greatness whatever that looks like in in your life or whatever throughs no doubt that? Kobe was willing to push himself much harder. And much further that everyone else I mean the Mamba mentality is a colloquial phrase that people use outside of him or even basketball and I think that's why he's universally respected because how tough he was mentally he talked about the fact that the reason why he had the confidence and swagger to take shots the Games without conflict is because he knew that he worked harder than anyone else to have that honor his mental toughness the fact that he tore his Achilles and took the foul shots and made them both in a close game and then walked off the court. Now knowing of those we're going to be the last shots ever Mentally he was at a different level. And I think that's why no matter or if you are in the sports arena or outside of it you can see that and projected into your life and your own endeavors and in really respected one of the conversations yesterday certainly on social media but also I think just as people talked was how should people remembering him discuss discuss the period of time when he was accused of sexual assault and was going back and forth from Lakers. Game to Eagle Colorado and was eventually settled but that was in a different era and now we take victims a lot more seriously than perhaps had in the past. And you know. I'm asking this because because I wanted to do this podcast to talk about him. As a human being as opposed to the one name person that we put on a pedestal and remember for all all their legacy and growing the game and everything and I think Kobe's life itself changed multiple times and this was a part of it. So why shouldn't we talk about it when he talked about it. It wasn't his sir favorite topic but in the documentary About himself that he produced a very Kobe thing but directed by the Gotham Chopra. There's a section action and there's a chapter where he discusses this chapter literally of his life and it name The situation and he hasn't named the place but you know what he's talking about but he does talk in great detail on the impact it had on him and his family. And here's the part of it that I struggle with because you're right that we are in a different era in so we're looking back at something thing that happened in the early two thousands with two thousand twenty Lens and there is a big part of our our current culture that says we need to believe victims. It's very important to believe victims in order for them to be able to grow in healing process but also for other women and men who are sexual abuse survivors to know that if they speak out they will be believed in so we need to. Normalize is a conversation and that's important and certainly that's a part of the Kobe conversation but there's also another part of our conversation though he's always always had that we've understood as a culture innocent until proven guilty in that we give someone when accused the benefit of the doubt given our judicial system which is not perfect. But that's the best one that we have and so. How do you reconcile those two things at the same time? I'm not sure because on every piece of content then that's put out about Kobe. They're going to be people who say he is a rapist. He is a sexual abuser. And there are going to be people boo who say if you bring that up. That is unfair. Given what just happened and they there might be some truth to both. I know this I know that in it's odd to phrase it at best but at best he someone who stepped out in his marriage which not great sadly something that happens all the time and at worst. He's guilty of a heinous crime and we're also learning about the metoo conversation is that there's also a murky middle there's also a middleware consent is not fully given or or consent changes in the middle of an act and so in Kobe's owned apology to the victim and to his family early. He himself admitted at the time that after watching the victim's testimony and looking at the discovery during the case he he understood that what he believed to be consent was not with the victim believed to be consent. Those are Kobe's words not mine and so certainly. It's something thing that needs to be part of his conversation because it did happen. He himself said he had a daughter at the time and his wife. I was pregnant with a child on the way sadly his wife miscarried during this period of time. I didn't know that he blames himself for it. He he said that the stress of the coverage in the trial quit his wife through the nope. Also sadly women miscarry more often than we've talked about and so no matter if that's actually the real reason he felt it was in that during his relationship relationship when she could have left in took half of the money and literally when he got back it was a waiting to exhale scene where she threw all all of his clothes into the street. He had to live elsewhere for period of time his narrative both as a family person as a basketball player could have totally changed changed. And would I like to believe that. That situation no matter where on the spectrum things that happened if it was just infidelity or if it was a crime would I like to believe that he grew a great deal from it. I hope so I was in in room thirty five in Eagle Colorado. I don't know what happened but I do know that. In the last chapter of his career he was an incredible champion for females for women in sport for women in our industry and so so again. He's a complex character with good and bad traits and I think it's probably disrespectful to him and everyone around him to act as if a big part of his life just didn't happen. I'm glad that you set it that way. And and put it on a timeline because one of the things we wanted to do is talk about him as a full person in the full spectrum of his life and I mean it's pretty clear that in the latter half of his career. He was a different person if not a different player and he was moving towards being an elder statesman even for the league and as you mentioned earlier having so many of those younger players under his wing and showing them the ropes how does that Jive with with the early career impressions of Kobe. Bryant versus how he was seen by a pierce as he was finishing his career. You hit the nail on the head. He was a different player and a different person and I wonder if the fact that he was different player informed him being a different person. You look at him coming into the League. So athletically gifted his jovial miss and the way he played the game was part of his mystique part of the reason why he was on sprite. Commercials cels and you know. Why he this side rapping career? The thought of late Kobe Bryant all day filming a rap music music video just seems so so far removed from who he was because everything was consumed with. The work was consumed with the basketball because he lost cost. ATHLETICISM DO INJURY Duty Age. He lost some of that bounce so then he had to be Craftsmen a masterclass in fort work in angles in just repetition and getting shot up after shot up after shot up and had to use his superiority ready mentally as the thing that separated him because he no longer had the superiority physically in. That's how you remember him at the end of his career and so tragically that helicopter the chopper. That was made famous. He ended up using it not because he it could or because he was celebrity he used it because it was a competitive advantage nature who's been to L. A.. Knows how wide the landscape is in their practice practice facilities in El Segundo but they're arenas downtown staples and Hewlett in in different parts in Orange County and his Mama Athletic Facility. The academy is in thousand oaks. Use a lot of time to horrible. La Traffic Jess In in La is so big in the or so many different communities amongst themselves and he used the chopper as a way to save time to save his body sitting in a limo for hours on end and in the back end of his career to gain more time with his family and so his level of ingenuity and figure out a different way to do things that others others weren't willing to do and his level of willing to be efficient in competed. Everything is one of the many ways I remember him in sadly sadly that chopper that competitive advantage that he had. It's last place that he was. Tell me about the final chapter that that I guess we never really saw. The ending to a lot of people looked at Kobe like they did it. Michael Jordan or so many other famous athletes as somebody who would be unable to walk away from the game who would not be able to quit not be able to take himself apart and I mean it was kind of a surprising ending to watch him just the opposite of that. Yeah I I thought he would be one of the many athletes that struggled in retirement and just went crazy and he actually said to mediais. You won't find me a staple center like why would I go from Orange County to downtown to watch other people play basketball. That's not how I was built in. In fact you ended up seeing them at Staples Center quite a bit. It was to expose his young daughter who tragically passed with him to the game because she was a lover of basketball and he would tell media that from an early age that she she had the same kind of will and mentality that he did and so he's a big part of his next chapter was being her coach being a mentor for other female basketball players. Sabrina and who was the most recent of many female. NCW players players that he would shout out on social media that he would work with one on one and send them tips that happened to NBA players in the league. That were much younger than him. Car Gorving Isaiah Thomas. They all went to the Church of Kobe to to learn about different things in his game. And then there's obviously the the guys who grew up in California by tomorrow's tomorrow's in in Norm Powell who he was icons to them and he had the the Mamba Academy that facility to teach teach people about not just basketball but training and getting the most out of yourself and he he wins it Oscar with deer basketball which is just a poem that he wrote to say goodbye to the game and ends up becoming a short film in winning an Oscar so now not only does he. Have you know Larry as a gold trophy. He has Oscar as well and he's written a bunch of children's books he's started a children's podcast to use basketball's a tool to teach them. There's this entire side of him that I never knew existed. I never thought I would see but that really really when you think about it when you take a step back make sense because his upbringing was so different than the traditional. NBA Player athlete. We've heard so many of the same story young guy impoverished neighborhood often from a single parent. Family uses is that pressure to force themselves to be coming out. That wasn't the case. For Kobe's father was a professional player. He lived in Italy. He speaks multiple languages. He's well read. Had He lived in Philadelphia but in a well off neighborhood but had to go to the bad neighborhoods to get some great basketball competition and so in a way he was always a bit of an outsider. He he never really fit in in Italy he was tall. You know black kid in the United States he was this well-versed kid that dressed a little bit different had different musical tastes and even in the NBA. He was a relic to the older past before him but he never fit in with the AU mentality of everyone was buddy buddy and friends and they would treat super teams. He was always. I guess on an island in a way and I think Malcolm Gladys talked about this when you're an outsider gives you you amazing perspective on anyone else now. I didn't know you had that perspective but when you look at his life's work shortly after he retired. You get the sense that. He's a really introspective guy and was able to use his ability to story. Tell to touch so many people no matter what walk of life last question just as as a a fan of the game is most of us are how will you remember him. I will personally remember him by just being absolutely terrified anytime he had the ball and needed to score car because he was GonNa do it. That's it so there are two. There are three anecdotes that our remember him by one is in his documentary it towards his Achilles. And there's a scene where there's a bunch of little metal balls put in front of him and he's gotTa pick them up with his toes and roll them and put them into a a little tupperware container. It's basically to work the muscles around the Achilles that haven't been working well. It's been in a cast that might atrophy into break up the scar tissue. And he's he's attacking this little task as if it's game seven of the NBA finals and the level of competition on his face was next level. The other is is Matt Barnes. Who later would be a teammate in trying to inbound the ball and Kobe standing right out of him and he literally with a basketball strong wrong human being matt barnes throws it right inches towards Kobes face as if he's GonNa hit him in the face with the mall or throw it in his face and Kobe doesn't doesn't flinch at all is this stays there looking at him chewing his gum and so I remember that moment on the this guy his he's wired different? He's built different and the last is an interview that he gave on Kimmel where he was telling a story about people talking to him about man you got so many kids got got so many girls you need a boy to carry on that legacy and his daughter says oh no no no. I'm going to carry on that legacy and Kobe's loving story. Because she was like no I'm here to in her own way Jonah. Had the Mama mentality and I'll remember that for how proud he was of telling that story and also sadly think me and I just can't imagine there are so many great photos my g's full of them of the two of them. courtside him so happy with his arm around her coach and her she coaching him points. Yeah and even when he scored his eighty one and he he walks off. You know him hugging his daughters and in his wife and so to think of him courtside at various games hugging her arm around her laughing thing and to think that stencil early he was going down and chopper arm around her not laughing. It's Sadly that's one of the things I think about when I think of him when I hear that one name coby that'd be one of the memories that fled to my mind. Thanks Donovan Donovan. Bennett of sports net. You'd like to hear more from Donovan on Kobe and everything else in the NBA. You can find his podcast Free Association wherever you get yours. Was the big story for more from us. You know where to go. It's the website the big story PODCAST DOT DOT CA. It is the twitter account at the big story F. P. N. and of course it is any podcast APP anywhere apple. Google stitcher spotify you pick. I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings Rowling's thanks for listening. We will talk tomorrow

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