Death, Helicopter, Kobe

G.O.A.T. Kobe Bryant lost basketball, and the whole world is crying

Manned by Ara Zobayan, a private helicopter with 8 passengers on board crashed on Sunday morning near Los Angeles. The first lines of the tragic news featured the name of the legend of world basketball Kobe Bryant, whose death was hard to believe. Further disclosure of the names of the victims only increased the feeling of injustice and horror: 13-year-old Gianna Bryant; Gianna’s friend on the basketball team Alyssa, her mother Carey and her father, baseball coach John Altobelli; Sarah Chater and her daughter Payton Chater; basketball coach Kristin Mauser.

Mourning events in the USA after the news of the death of Bryant. 
Photo: EPA

Kobe Bryant did not like to be late, and when in a hurry, the helicopter was a familiar form of transport for him. Presumably, all passengers were in a hurry to train the girls at the Mamba Academy basketball club, sponsored by Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba is the most famous nickname of a basketball player, whose incredible 20-year career at the Los Angeles Lakers was followed by the entire basketball, and not just the basketball, world.

The flight began in weather conditions close to the minimum, or even below the minimum standards. According to the first police reports, the disaster occurred in a hilly area, in conditions of reduced visibility due to dense fog.

It would be better if they stayed at home. The causes of the disaster that shook the whole world will find out, as far as possible, an investigation. But what now to talk about it …

… There are stars whose influence extends far beyond the limits of the given game space and the time allotted to them for a career. Kobe Bryant, in 1996, who turned out to be in the most popular club in the world right from the school bench (he chose it “Charlotte”, but immediately exchanged it), gained stellar height unusually quickly. By the end of the 90s, when Los Angeles was headed by the famous Phil Jackson, Kobe had already claimed the throne of the basketball king, temporarily (but, as it turns out, permanently) left by the great Michael Jordan. There were a lot of applicants, but it was Kobe Bryant who became the player completely furiously aimed at this place.

Toward the close of his career, he will say that he was annoyed, and even angry that he could not surpass “His Highness” in the number of championship rings:

Michael and the Chicago Bulls had six in the 90s, Kobe and the Lakers “only” five – for three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2003, and two in a row at the end tenths.

Kobe Bryant. Photo: EPA

The latter should not have been, because long ago the mighty Shaquille had quarreled with the squabbled quarrel with Mamba, and the main competitors looked much more balanced. But the attacking defender from the City of Angels, having crossed the threshold of the 30th anniversary, pulled the Lakers to the top two more times. Sometimes it seemed, albeit an exaggeration, that he makes the game alone: ​​the partners help a little, the hypnotized rivals languidly resist, and Kobe is furious and does whatever he wants. The fourth quarters, when Mamba could turn the course of the most unsuccessful match, became his chip. The indefatigable fury of the hero lived and burned the parquet in him, who did not put up with rivals or with age. Wilt Chamberlain did not reach a record 100 points in one match, but his 81 points still rise to the second peak.

When LeBron James surpassed his third result in career scores of 33 643 points on Saturday, Kobe sent the following congratulations: “Keep moving the game forward, LeBron!”

Before the fateful landing in the helicopter, only a few hours remained. James, learning about the tragedy, cried.

Kobe Bryant. Photo: EPA

… No, Kobe Bryant was not an angel. They could be admired, and equally hated. He could both raise partners from the trenches and skillfully manipulate them. A standing audience could applaud him after the defeat of his team, and his audience could boo him closer to the end of his career. 20 years is too long for everyone to just be touched and extol the king. But, no matter what happens with Los Angeles, no matter how the club fails, sometimes falling completely dependent on a losing leader, everyone paid tribute to him as a person who gives the game to himself.

When, before the 2015-2016 season, he announced that he would leave in the summer, it became easier for everyone – and he too. This was not a publicity stunt, and indeed the last season of the great took on a special character for the entire NBA – the grand tour of the Black Mamba became almost the main event stretching for months. He said goodbye nicely, after each match leaving sneakers in the arenas. It seems that in Washington, Alexander Ovechkin became their owner and commemorative T-shirt.

A poetic monologue about the close parting with basketball formed the basis of the animated short film, which received the Oscar in 2017. It begins with the words (the voiceover, of course, is read by Kobe himself) with the words “my dear basketball”, and ends with the words “I love you”. Few people could say about the Game in the way Kobe Bryant said.

Kobe Bryant movie, which brought him an Oscar

Few could write so frankly about how he motivated the partners, “finding out what their greatest fears are”, and having learned and “understanding the guys”, “get the most out of them on the floor by touching the right nerve.”

A couple of times I saw this not on TV.

… At the matches of the American basketball “dream-team” at the London Olympics 2012, it was impossible to pass simply by journalistic accreditation, but there were not enough tickets for everyone. Thanks to the dearest hostess of our traveling branch of the OKR, Svetlana Grigoryevna – she left me the cherished tickets a couple of times.

Fans went to Kobe, Kevin, LeBron, Carmelo and other stars. And I, too, naturally – with the desire to see the defeat of the “celestials,” because in cases where I am neutral, I am rooting for the weak. The Lithuanians were weak in the first personally seen match, and they almost ate the “dream team”, losing only four points in the end. 34-year-old Kobe Bryant was not the protagonist in this match, nor in the next meeting, starting closer to midnight, with the Argentines. But there were several episodes when it was Kobe who started the slightly starred partners. A pair of remarks, some impossible throw with a deviation, a snake interception in defense.

With some effort, it was possible to stay on the O2 Arena in northern Greenwich after the match for bronze won by the Russian team against the Argentines (this, imagine, it was), but I still had to catch the Russia-Brazil volleyball final, and the epic battle for US gold – Spain remained behind the scenes. It’s a pity, of course, but I could already say that I saw Kobe Bryant both on the floor and in the VIP zone of the swimming palace, after London 2012.

Bryant, by the way, really wanted to get into the Olympic Rio and win the third consecutive gold. But for 20 years, Kobe suffered 25 serious injuries, and going out to the floor not completely ready is below his dignity. He said that he would leave – and left. Fortunately, there was something to do after the end of my career.

In memory of Kobe Bryant. Photo: EPA

… Hundreds of responses. From famous athletes (from Zidane to Gretzky), from politicians, actors, from everyone who was somehow “in orbit” by Kobe Bryant, and who were affected in one way or another by the tragedy. Barack Obama wrote: “Kobe was a legend on the floor, and was just starting out in what was an equally significant act of his life. The loss of Gianna is even more heartbreaking for us as parents. ” Phil Jackson: “Kobe was the chosen one for a lot of people.” Steve Nash: “I liked what kind of father he was for his girls.” There are four girls. There were four …

Until the end of his life, he kept a child and a primordial sense of childish joy from his first acquaintance with basketball. From the book “Mamba’s Mentality”: “I was so fascinated by the ball that I didn’t even want to knock on parquet and throw it into the ring – I just didn’t want to lose this feeling.”

A little later, the knock of the ball on the floor will become for him “the main element that lies at the origins of my craft.” He will designate it like this: “Purity and clarity. The sound of life and light. “

The name “Kobe” or, to be more precise, “Kobe”, the parents gave him, having looked at the menu the name of the dish from the Japanese city of the same name. Over the past two decades, 14 thousand people with this name have appeared in the United States.

Now there will be more. Much bigger.

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