Bittersweet Black Mamba memories
Surprising no one, the Basketball Hall of Fame said on Saturday it will induct Kobe Bryant posthumously later this year.
The late superstar’s fans knew as the Black Mamba will join Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and six others as part of the Hall’s class of 2020.
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, perished along with seven other people in a helicopter crash in the hills outside Los Angeles, California, on Jan. 26.
“Obviously we wish that he was here with us to celebrate,” an emotional Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, told a television reporter.
Mrs. Bryant said “every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here. So we are incredibly proud of him.”
Bryant was a five-time world champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.
Garnett, like Bryant, transitioned from high school phenom to league superstar with ease and was part of the Boston Celtics’ 2008 NBA title.
The Hall has scheduled the enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, for Aug. 29, with a backup plan to hold it in October in case of a delay by the new coronavirus pandemic.
As the basketball universe joined Bryant’s family in welcoming his well-deserved accolade, reaction locally from sports reporters and personalities was swift and bittersweet.
Bryant was a frequent visitor to the Philippines. The last time he was here was in 2016 after his retirement with the Lakers where he spent his entire 20-year career.
Many felt that as a practicing Catholic, Kobe cherished a religious connection with the Philippines, Asia’s bastion of Catholicism. Of course, it helped that his game is treated like religion by the populace.
“Every time he stepped on Philippine soil, we all knew that we were being visited by one of the greatest human beings ever to play the game,” said Musong Castillo of Inquirer Sports.
Willie Marcial, Philippine Basketball Association commissioner and formerly the league’s media bureau chief, echoed Castillo’s sentiment, saying that “Kobe was in a class by himself on and off the court.”
“Bryant revolutionized basketball, and what made him so special was his penchant to share his skills with young dribblers,” said Charles
Maxey, a former sports editor and currently commissioner
of the Philippine Sports Commission.
GMA sports journalist Chino Trinidad, who interviewed Bryant at least four times, said Kobe was a “rarity among the people I have sat down with and seems to give a piece of himself to his interviewer.”
Trinidad said LeBron James as an interview subject “was OK, as was Kevin Durant. But Kobe was on a different level.” INQ
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