Two of Kobe Bryant’s biggest fans in Davao City joined the NBA legend’s legion of fans around the world in mourning over his tragic death on Monday (PH Time).
Senator Christoper “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, and Presidential Adviser on Sports Glenn Escandor expressed their devastation after news broke out of the helicopter crash that killed the 41-year old basketball idol along with his 13-year old daughter Gigi and 7 others on board.
“Malaking kawalan ang aksidenteng pagkamatay ni Kobe Bryant. Isa sya sa mga legends at tinitingala ng mga manlalaro ng basketball sa buong mundo,” said Go, who regularly plays basketball and has met the late NBA icon in one of his Manila visits, in a statement sent to media.
“Idol ko rin po si Kobe and, in fact, may koleksyon po ako ng kanyang mga sapatos at jersey. Bilang isang manlalaro at fan rin ng basketball, isa po siya sa tinitingala ko sa 3 points, sa galaw, sa porma, sa lahat ng aspeto ng laro.Pero hindi lang sa larong basketball nagkaroon ng malaking impact si Kobe. Siya ay isang inspirasyon sa mga kabataan at sa ating lahat, lalo na pagdating sa kahalagahan ng disiplina, hard work, at dedikasyon para maging matagumpay sa ating mga kanya-kanyang larangan,” Go said.
The sports-loving lawmaker cited the impact of Bryant on people even outside of basketball. “Kitang-kita ang impact ni Kobe sa larong basketball. Pero higit pa doon, nasilayan rin natin siya bilang isang ama na naging dedikado sa kanyang pamilya, at isang idolo na ginamit ang kanyang talento at kasikatan upang tumulong at magsilbing inspirasyon sa kanyang komunidad.”
It was a coincidence that a day before Kobe died, Go played basketball in a basketball gym in Valenzuela City called “The House of Kobe.”
“Kitang kita ang malaking impact niya sa kabataan. Bagamat nakakalungkot ang kanyang biglaang pagkamatay, sana’y magsilbing aral rin ang kanyang buhay para maging inspirasyon sa ating mga atleta,” he said.
Go relayed the message of Kobe’s fans in the country to the grieving Bryant family and the NBA. “From the millions of Filipinos whose lives you’ve touched one way or another, we thank you, Kobe, for inspiring us to always give our best in what we do. For his loved ones and the basketball community, we share your grief as we extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and fans around the world who Kobe left behind.”
Escandor, who like his basketball buddy Sen. Go idolized Kobe, collects Kobe sneakers. His son Francis Gabriel Escandor, who plays for De L Salle Green Archers in the UAAP, also wears the signature Kobe kicks.
“I can feel the pain of those close to him. This is a very devastating loss,” said Escandor who was in the sidelines when Kobe and Gigi watched from the sidelines of the Lakers-Dallas game recently. It was to be the father-daughter duo’s last appearance at the Staples Center, acclaimed as “The House That Kobe Built.” He won two NBA titles at the Staples Center.
Bryant used a ferocious competitiveness and uncanny shooting touch to become an NBA icon, leaving behind a legacy that has influenced the newest generation of league talent and fans worldwide.
From his 81-point game, the second-best scoring performance in NBA history, to five NBA titles in 20 years of dazzling performances with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant delivered a relentless attitude that attracted a global following before his death Sunday at age 41 in a helicopter crash.
Bryant joined giant center Shaquille O’Neal to spark the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002, becoming at the age of 23 the youngest player to capture three titles.
A bitter feud with Bryant saw “Shaq” depart, Bryant portrayed as never having had childish ways while O’Neal never outgrew them.
That left Bryant without the inside force needed to capture the crown until Spain’s Pau Gasol arrived and the Lakers won titles in 2009 and 2010 with Bryant in command and later patching things up with O’Neal.
Bryant sparked the US Olympic team to gold medals at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics and became a global celebrity as much for his personality as his playmaking.
Bryant’s fierceness was legendary and led him to nickname himself the “Black Mamba” for his ability to strike quickly with deadly scoring accuracy.
There were spectacular nights but nothing topped his 81-point effort against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006, a mark surpassed only by
Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.
Bryant scored 65 points in a 2007 win over Portland, then followed with 50 points against Minnesota, 60 at Memphis and 50 more against New Orleans — the third-longest run of 50-point games in NBA history behind two from Chamberlain.
Some say Bryant saved the best for last, scoring a league season-high 60 points against Utah in his final NBA game in 2016, becoming the oldest player in league history to crack that milestone at age 37.
“I love everything about this game,” Bryant famously said. “For me, it’s not a part of life, it is life, and it’s a part of me.”
In all, Bryant finished with 33,643 points, 7,047 rebounds and 6,306 assists over 1,346 career NBA games. He was an 18-time NBA All-Star, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player, the NBA Finals 2009 and 2010 NBA MVP and matched a record as a four-time NBA All-Star Game MVP. (With a report from AFP)