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A year without Kobe

A year without Kobe

A year has passed, but neither the NBA nor the world of sports in general have fully recovered from the void left by the death of Kobe Bryant, an absolute basketball legend and also a figure whose charisma extended far beyond the court.

Bryant, who died on January 26, 2020 at age 41 in Calabasas (USA) in a helicopter accident that killed eight other people (including his daughter Gianna), is the fourth highest all-time scorer in the NBA. (33,643 points) and an eternal myth of the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won five rings.

But statistics aside, he was a fierce competitor, an almost strenuous example of effort, an emblem for Los Angeles (with a very special connection to its Latino community), and a person so ambitious that he became the first former professional athlete to win an award. Óscar (for the animated short «Dear Basketball», 2017).

THE SHOCK AFTER THE ACCIDENT …

After so many months of pandemic and suffering across the globe, it is difficult to remember and gauge the enormous shock that the news of Bryant’s death caused.

However, it is not unreasonable to say that the US (and much of the world) was paralyzed for a moment on the morning of that January 26.

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Shortly before noon, the media specialized in celebrity news TMZ launched an alert assuring that the player had died, a news that, after a few minutes of bewilderment and astonishment among the rest of the media and the authorities, ended up being confirmed.

Very soon after, the surroundings of the Staples Center, the stadium where Bryant lived nights of glory with the Lakers, became the center of an impromptu tribute by fans who still could not believe what happened.

T-shirts with numbers 8 and 24, posters with the name of Kobe, flowers with the colors purple and gold …

His followers mourned the tragedy with everything they had at hand while, just a few hundred meters away, the news of his death crept onto the red carpet at the Grammys, which were held just that day at the Staples Center.

“Los Angeles, the United States and the entire world lost a hero today,” said Alicia Keys, the host of the Grammys, at the beginning of a gala marked from beginning to end by the memory of Bryant.

Another image that perfectly summed up the great sadness of that day was that of LeBron James: with tears on the Los Angeles airport runway, seeking comfort in hugs, a star crying to another star.

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… AND THE TRIBUTES TO HIS LEGACY

Bryant does not lack very dark points in his biography, such as the rape accusation that ended a pact with the complainant.

But in the past twelve months, the NBA has turned to remembering one of the deadliest scorers basketball has seen and elevating Bryant’s legacy to the highest level on and off the court.

“In basketball, in life, as a father, Kobe did not keep anything in the warehouse: he gave everything,” said a tearful Michael Jordan at the massive tribute that was held in February in Los Angeles.

“You left too early when your next chapter in life was just beginning, but now is our time to carry on your legacy,” said Shaquille O’Neal.

Although perhaps it was another former teammate, Pau Gasol, who has best embodied throughout these months the devastation due to the absence not of a titan from the basket, but of a true friend.

“He inspired me on a day-to-day basis: his work ethic, his dedication to being the best, demanding that his colleagues give their best, that somewhat murderous instinct, that ‘la Mamba’ mentality,” he told Efe in February.

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“It was a huge experience that made me grow as a player and gave me a different perspective as a person,” he added.

Outside of the strictly sports environment, the most affectionate manifestation of love for Kobe took place in Los Angeles, where, almost overnight, dozens and dozens of street murals appeared to never forget the Lakers idol.

AN OPEN INVESTIGATION

The causes of the accident that ended Bryant’s life have been the subject of discussion without a definitive conclusion being reached for now.

But on February 9, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will announce its findings after a lengthy investigation.

So far, the existence of fog where the helicopter crashed, a hilly area in Los Angeles, has been the strongest hypothesis as the cause of the accident.

Meanwhile, the player’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has sued the helicopter company for alleged negligence in her husband’s death.

And he has also continued to fight in court with another lawsuit, this time against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office after news broke that some officers took photos of the accident with their personal mobiles and shared them illegally afterwards. EFE (HN).

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