When you think of Los Angeles, California, what comes to mind?
For many, it’s the traffic or the smog. For others, it may be how close it is to the beach or the vast stretches of palm trees. However, there usually is one that is overlooked and that is the sports teams.
These sports teams create a solid identity that does not leave the city and part of those sports teams are players who stay around for a long time. For the city of Los Angeles, that player is Kobe Bryant.
Kobe has spent the past 20 seasons with the Lakers, bring home five championships. He will definitely be ingrained in LA history and identity for years to come.
Now, I have not lived in Los Angeles since I was 11; however, I identify strongly with the city of angels. I love everything about it, from the beach to the city, from the culture to the people and from Clippers to the Lakers.
While it is no secret I am a Clippers’ fan through and through, I still love the Lakers. The only time I will not cheer on the Lakers will be when they play the Clippers. Sure, I give the Lakers a hard time on my podcast “The Sports Podcast,” but I still love the Lakers and that includes Kobe.
Watching him weave a beautiful game this week was an emotional time for me. Yes, I know it’s just a game, but Kobe has been there since I lived in LA originally. He helped the Lakers to three championships while I live there.
As I mentioned, I love L.A. (cue Randy Newman), that part of my identity will stick with me forever. Kobe’s retirement brings not only a goodbye to my childhood, but a farewell to a piece of my identity that has lasted a long time.
It brought chills to listen to the M-V-P chants rain down on Kobe during the game. When he went to the bench for the final time, it was a special moment, especially because he was heading back to the bench with 60 points. The only way fans could show their appreciation by chanting “Kobe” and “M-V-P.”
It seems like a long time since one player has captivated an entire city in any sport. Players come and go, but some of these legends have created a name for themselves and have etched themselves into the identity of that city.
Take Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, Larry Bird in Boston and even Michael Jordan in Chicago. Kobe has done the exact same in Los Angeles.
Let me answer the question I posed when I started writing: when I think of Los Angeles, I think of the palm trees, the beach, the traffic and Kobe Bryant.
He will forever live on in my identity because of the city that I have adopted as my hometown. He was a part of my childhood in Los Angeles and my teenage years in Springville, Utah.
Now, he is there again as I get ready to move on to the next stage in my life. I have one final message for you Kobe.
To some, you were a villain (especially here in Utah); to others, you were an idol; and to some, you were center of a generation. However, to me, you were a big part of a local fan and as you grew as a basketball player, I grew as a person.
Thanks for the memories Kobe, they will not be forgotten anytime soon.