Kent Taylor: Thoughts on Kobe

Kent Taylor: Thoughts on Kobe
FILE - In this June 7, 2009 file photo Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) points to a player behind him after making a basket in the closing seconds against the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals in Los Angeles. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. He was 41. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, file) (Source: Mark J. Terrill)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It felt like a punch to the gut.

I was at that rare place where they actually ask you to turn off your cellphone, a children's play, on Sunday when I got the news.

I had a text from work asking about any connections to Kobe Bryant. Why?

Then I checked twitter. I wasn't sure I believed it.

Ironically, it was missing a children's play because he was stuck in traffic, that moved Kobe Bryant to start using a helicopter to commute in L.A.

To be honest I wasn't a huge fan of Kobe Bryant the player. I didn't really like the Lakers. I was a Jordan guy, a Dr. J guy, but I respected Kobe.

My strongest memory is actually watching his final game live in 2016 while on spring break in Florida. The 60 point game on 50 shots was my kind of game. He went out on a high note unlike any NBA player before or since or most likely ever.

Of course I can vividly remember the lob to Shaq and his NBA titles. He was a tactician. He studied the game and beat you with your own moves by making split second decisions.

Kobe's second act is almost more impressive to me. He was a devoted father.

I helped coach my daughter's basketball team this season. Not exactly travel ball with college scouts drooling. Kids who were playing for the first time and struggled to just get the ball to a lowered basket. I loved it. I can see how he was able to get so much joy out of watching his daughter Gianna learn the game.

In the last 24 hours I have read a lot. I have watched a lot of old interviews. The one where he explains his helicopter use. The one where he tells Jimmy Kimmel about people saying he and his wife need a boy to carry on the tradition and Gigi says, "No I've got this."

The smile on his face during that moment is so genuine.

Jerry West talking about the draft process and watching a 17 year-old Kobe dominate Michael Cooper in a workout.

A big part of this tragedy is that we will all be deprived of seeing what Kobe still had left to accomplish. What Gigi would accomplish. What the other two young women would accomplish.

That said, Kobe accomplished more in his 41 years than just about anyone on earth ever has. He got the most out of his time. My gosh, he even won an Oscar.

He was blessed with so many gifts, except for the one gift that you cannot buy.

Time.

However, he knew that too.

That's why he used the helicopter. To maximize his time with his family. He talked of the joy of picking up his kids at school. With phones and tablets and so many distractions, it's hard for a parent to find quality time with their kids. Kobe did that.

Kobe Bryant's legend will live on. Sunday will join days like when we heard the news of Princess Diana's death or John F. Kennedy Jr's death as moments stuck in our memories.

All were taken before what we consider fair lifespans, but all three got the most out of their abbreviated time on this earth.

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