It’s been a couple of weeks since Mamba Day happened and Kobe Bryant retired from the NBA. I’m still not over it. That night and that game will forever be special to me as a die hard Lakers fan but also as a Kobe Bryant fan. Going into that game, I was so sad because I grew up watching Kobe dominate on the court. I watched him win many games for the Lakers and I cheered him on for 20 years. Goodness, I can’t believe he played in the NBA for 20 years. It’s unheard of but if anyone was going to do it, it would be the Black Mamba. As much respect as I have for the Golden State Warriors and the Splash Brothers, I wasn’t going to pretend that I was going to watch them make history as the first team in the NBA to surpass the Chicago Bulls record of winning 73 games in a season. That night was all about Kobe Bryant for me and for my family. I watched all things Kobe from the time I woke up until the wee hours of the morning following Kobe’s final game. I talked Kobe with my family, my friends and my co-workers. I’m sure my co-workers that aren’t basketball fans got tired of all of my Kobe everything but I couldn’t help it. Kobe was such a big part of my basketball loving life for so long so this week’s Friday Five will feature my Top 5 Kobe Bryant memories.
 Kobe tears his Achilles against the Golden State Warriors.
This was something that I’ve never seen before in an NBA game and I’m pretty certain we’ll never see again. Kobe Bryant tore his achilles tendon during a game against the Golden State Warriors and shouldn’t have been able to walk on but not only did he walk on the tear, he also shot two free throws, made them both to tie up the game and then walked himself off the court. He had to be in massive pain but he just walked off the court all calm as can be and was determined to come back even stronger.
In a game and time where superstars cry over the smallest fouls and have to be carted off the court in a wheelchair and then come back in the fourth quarter to play or be carried off the court by your teammates over something very minor, Kobe’s season ended in this game but he walked himself off the court….ON A TORN ACHILLES. He’s something else, our Kobe Bean.
 Kobe Bryant doesn’t flinch.
D’Angelo Russell is a rookie on our team this year and he likes to do this celebration dance when he’s on fire where he points to his forearm while running down the court, screaming, “I got ice in my veins” and while he’s a damn good basketball player, it’s really Kobe Bryant who has ice in his veins as we see in this video clip.
Matt Barnes is that player that I have hated on every team that he’s played on (well until he came to play for the Lakers) and I don’t think I ever hated him more than I hated him in this game. I remember watching this game with my family and laughing when Matt Barnes tried to get Kobe to flinch and Kobe didn’t bite. I don’t know anybody that wouldn’t have flinched but Kobe Bryant aint no bitch. He didn’t flinch.
 Kobe outscores entire Dallas Mavericks team with 62 points in 3 quarters.
I remember this game. Like most of the games, I watched it from home and I remember being so excited that Kobe outscored the entire Dallas Mavericks team through 3 quarters. The score was Kobe 62 – Mavs 61 at the end of the 3rd. Only someone with as much drive as Kobe would be able to do that.
I remember thinking about this game this past season when we were on the other side of the story. We’re playing Golden State and we’re losing bad. We’re losing so bad that one of the Lakers twitter accounts says, “If we were playing Klay Thompson, the game would be close.” and I remember asking my family, “Remember when Kobe outscored the entire Dallas team in three quarters?”
SMH…the good ol’ days.
 Kobe scores 2 clutch shots to win against Portland.
Kobe Bryant has completely spoiled Lakers fans with some amazing shots he put up over the course of his 20 year career. This is probably one of my favorite games where he saved the day for us. That first three he took to send the game into OT was one of probably the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I mean, take a look at that shot…I’ll wait. Fast forward to the 3:20 mark and watch that play. Holy freaking shit, how he made that shot (let alone took it) was one of my favorite things about him. He was not afraid to shoot the ball and do the impossible.
That first shot is proof of that. He’s walked into arenas and was booed from the beginning to end of games and he still played hard. His determination to win was why even the great Michael Jordan said he’d want him on his team.
 Mamba Out with 60 points.
Mamba Day fell on the fifth anniversary of my Mom’s death. I was prepared to be an emotional wreck the entire day as I remembered one of the most important people in my life and watched as one of my most favorite players EVER played in his final NBA game.
I woke up with my Mom on my mind and throughout the day, she was there always near the front of my thoughts and then I got out of bed and turned the TV on. Everyone and their Mom was talking about Kobe, Kobe’s career and his final game that night. I dreaded game time. I didn’t want this to end because Kobe has spoiled the hell out of us Lakers fans with years and years of amazing-ness. Game winning buzzer beaters, five championship banners to hang in the Staples Center and many hours of game footage for future players to learn from. He was special to us Lakers fans because he carried on the tradition of greatness in a basketball arena that us fans are used to.
We’ve had some of the greatest players play for our team and all of them have said that Kobe Bryant is special…because he is and his last game in a Lakers uniform proved it.
He scored 60 points!
I’ve heard and read all of the haters say that he was handed those points, that it was an exhibition game but nobody watching that game would think that. He played all four of those quarters and just gutted every point out. You could see his determination to give the fans this last show. He was dogged tired but he didn’t back down. You could see his teammates urging him to shoot the ball, urging him to go out on top and he wasn’t going to let anyone down. He reminded me of a gladiator, fighting until his final breath and he really did leave it all out on the floor.
As sad as I was that we weren’t going to get another Kobe Bryant show, Kobe himself wouldn’t let us be sad. The show he put on for us in that final game shows exactly what set him apart from everyone else. What made him so special. His love for the game, his love for the fans of L.A. is special and I won’t ever forget it.
As a die hard basketball fan, I’m glad that I got to witness Kobe Bryant’s career but I’m also grateful that Brenna was able to witness it too.
In the end, this is me…
Thank you, Kobe.