The NBA World mourns the passing of Kobe; What he meant to OKC Thunder

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The NBA world mourns the loss of one of it’s greatest stars, one of it’s most impactful players, Kobe Bryant. What he meant to basketball, and to the OKC Thunder.

Shocking is not the right word to describe it. There has to be something more. Really, there is no word with enough gravity, and power, to truly explain what this loss means for the NBA, it’s fans, pop culture, and of course his family. From OKC Thunder fans to Orlando Magic fans, certainly, L.A. Laker fans and everyone in between were all touched by Kobe.

As I type this at the age of 22, roughly the age of most of the NBA’s high power stars it feels like, I remember just how much everyone in my age group idolized Kobe. Many of our young stars today like Trae Young did not just acknowledge his level of greatness as a peer, or an equal.

At the age of 41, Kobe spent most of the young NBA players’ life being a larger than life figure. Being something that did not seem obtainable. That is how he touched a generation, my generation, with his greatness on the floor. His competitiveness and mentality exceeded basketball. It made it’s way to all sports, but also just life in general. A ton of non-athletes live their life with “mamba mentality.”

I heard of the Kobe news from my mom, actually. She doesn’t know what a basketball even looks like, and she simply said: “Did you hear about Kobe?” Death did not even cross my mind for a 41-year-old legend who had just tweeted and been in the public eye hours prior.

I thought maybe she somehow heard on Facebook about LeBron moving up the ladder in scoring over Kobe. That was wishful thinking. When she told me he was dead, the first thing I thought about was not his greatness on the floor. It was not his MVPs, championships, lobs to Shaq, standing strong in the face of a ball fake off an inbound from Matt Barnes, it was not his scoring or mentality.

The first thing I thought about was a now chilling video of him courtside with his daughter explaining the game of basketball that they now both love to her. Answering all her questions with patience and great detail.

I thought about the story he told about his daughter wanting to get into basketball so they bought NBA League Pass and would watch it every night and learn the game of basketball.

I thought, what must she would be going through? The rest of their family, as well.

Now, we find out tragically that his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was on the helicopter as well. My thoughts and condolences go out to the family, and everyone impacted by this.

To go back to Trae Young, and really explain how the Oklahoma native was impacted by this, here is his tweet after it was found out the passing of Kobe’s daughter.

Kobe Bryant loved basketball more than any other player. I truly believe that. I believe Kobe loved the game more than MJ, more than LeBron, simply anyone. So I find it fitting, in a day full of tragedy, heartbreak, and loss, we end this article with one of the most impactful moments for Kobe Bryant as it relates to our OKC Thunder.

One of my best memories of the OKC Thunder, all the wins, all the losses, all the celebrations, all the failures, was seeing them in the NBA Playoffs, despite them getting bounced by Kobe Bryant and the soon to be champion L.A. Lakers.

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We gave the Thunder a standing ovation, even in defeat, so proud Oklahoma and the 405 was on the map…someone else also gave the Thunder a proverbial standing ovation. It was Kobe Bryant. That was almost validation to all of us, this group was going to be outstanding. A piece of Kobe’s legacy will always be in OKC, as he played his final road contest against the Thunder in the 405.

His relationship with OKC Thunder franchise player, even despite his trade to the Rockets,  Russell Westbrook, was a special one given the fact Russ grew up in L.A. Here is what Russ said after that final road game of Kobe’s career.

As we all sit here shellshocked, mourning saddened the NBA roles on. Some might think that is strange, or even ridiculous. Some might find it maddening that the Call of Duty Esports league canceled their matches for Kobe, but the NBA didn’t.

However, I find it almost poetic that the greatest game gets played on this tragic day. A game that Kobe Bryant loved more than anyone else could. I think to myself, and I guess publically now, that Kobe would’ve wanted the games to go on.

He would’ve wanted players to go out there and battle with the same intensity if not more than normal. Get shots up, and don’t let up. It’s hard, and my first reaction was to also cancel the games, but maybe this is what Kobe wanted.

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Thank you, Kobe. Thank you for the memories, the way you impacted not only games but many, many lives. Of course, once again, thoughts and prayers continue to be with the NBA Family, the Bryant Family, the family of Gianna’s teammate, and everyone struggling to deal with this. Please, go make amends, go say I love you, go hug someone today.