The sudden, horrific passing of National Basketball Association great and retired Los Angeles Laker Kobe (Bean) Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, has not much to do with films but pretty much to do with entertainment.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter were among several people killed January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Kobe (since the world will remember him as Kobe) was 41.
At the young age of 18, Kobe was first drafted to the Charlotte Hornets and was immediately traded to the Lakers where he played for 20 years. During his time as a basketball player, Kobe provided great entertainment for his fans the world over. His game-high score of 81 points in 2006 against the Toronto Raptors is the second most points scored in a single game in league history—only topped by the late Wilt (the Stilt) Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. And in his last game with the Lakers in 2016, he scored 60 points.
Shortly before his death, Kobe had been the third-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points. But just last weekend, on the night before Kobe’s death, Laker Lebron James surpassed Kobe’s record, which knocked Kobe down one peg—with James becoming the third-leading scorer and Kobe now at the time of his death the fourth-leading scorer.
In what is reportedly one of Kobe’s last social media posts, the late star tweeted the following: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644.”
Kobe was much involved in Gianna’s budding basketball career—as well as women’s basketball programs—and a photo of them at a recent Lakers game, where it seems as if Kobe was explaining the finer details of the game to his daughter, will certainly become a treasured photo for his surviving wife, Vanessa, whom he married in 2001, and three daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. Just looking at the way that Gianna played her “father’s game” lets folks know that she was well on her way to becoming a good basketball player in her own right.
Part of Kobe’s legacy will also be the way he or his career have been memorialized in the way of film. Kobe was awarded the 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film called “Dear Basketball,” which was based on Kobe’s retirement poem. He wrote the poem in 2015 as a farewell and announcement about his retirement. In part, the poem reads: “Dear Basketball, from the moment I started rolling my dad’s tube socks and shooting imaginary game-winning shots in the Great Western Forum, I knew one thing was real: I fell in love with you.”
A documentary by Gotham Chopra titled “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” was released in 2015 and went behind the stats to reveal Kobe’s career, exploring the mentorships, allies and rivalries that have helped shape his stellar tenure in the NBA.
An earlier film by iconic director Spike Lee was titled “Kobe Doin’ Work” and was released in 2009. It focused on Kobe during one day of the 2007-2008 Lakers season. Lee and 30 cameramen were granted unprecedented access to Kobe’s life to produce this documentary.
There were seven other people who died in the helicopter crash during a ride that was taking the group to a youth basketball game in the immediate area.
While it is known that there had been some controversy surrounding Kobe, either on the personal front or within his family with the reported estrangement from his parents, I wanted to speak about positive issues involving this basketball superstar. May he, Gianna and the other victims of this unfortunate accident rest in peace.