Golden State Warriors’ power forward Draymond Green, like so many of us, is having a hard time coping with the loss of Kobe Bryant. But the advice he received from the late NBA legend remains prevalent.
Kobe Bryant is gone. So is his daughter Gianna. And so are seven other people with families who love and miss them.
I can’t even believe I’m writing this right now. It still doesn’t feel real. And it likely never will. But the one thing about him that will last forever is his legacy. Everyone has a Kobe story.
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And that really means that everyone has a piece of Kobe that’s unique to them, a piece of the legend of who he was and what he passed on through his actions and advice.
That’s why everyone is taking this news so hard. Family, friends, fans, and even people who don’t watch basketball. Everyone is feeling this one.
The Golden State Warriors took it as hard as anyone. They didn’t have a game on Sunday, but they were together after landing in Philly, in the middle of having a light practice. When news broke with what happened, no one really knew how to respond.
We hadn’t heard much from the Warriors except for an official statement from the team, along with some heartfelt Instagram posts from the players individually. But no one has really elaborated about how they’re feeling. Probably because it’s just so hard to wrap your head around.
At this point, Draymond Green has really been the only one to speak about the tragedy. During a team shootaround the day before the Dubs face Bryant’s hometown 76ers, Green opened up to the media for the first time about the magnitude of this loss not just for the world, but for him personally.
As I’m sure you can remember, Green struggled in the 2016 playoffs. Not with playing, but with keeping his temper in check.
It all came to a head when he got a technical in the Finals and got suspended a game — an action many feel like cost the team what would have been their second championship at the time. It was through this tough time that Kobe reached out to Green.
"“To get that call. He told me, he said, ‘Draymond, 99 percent of the world is OK with mediocrity, or worse. But, at best, mediocrity. You’re chasing something so much bigger. How do you ever expect anyone to understand you?’“That was all I needed to hear, especially coming from a guy that I’ve loved since I was a kid. That I have the utmost respect for and that I ended up building a relationship with. That meant the world to me because Kobe said (expletive) everybody. I was able to hold onto that and rally and keep going and build on it.”"
Green was able to see what “chasing something so much bigger” looked like firsthand just three years prior to that conversation when the Lakers hosted the Warriors on April 12, 2013. This was Kobe’s famed Achilles game.
The Warriors were whooping a hobbled LA team, but Kobe was keeping them afloat to give them a chance. Then suddenly, Kobe drops to the floor, wondering if Harrison Barnes had kicked the back of his leg.
He didn’t. Kobe had ruptured his Achilles.
One of the worst injuries a professional athlete can sustain. And what did he do? He limped to the free-throw line and sank two free throws, then slowly made his way to the locker room.
Draymond didn’t play that game, but he was on the bench, and that moment undoubtedly left a mark on him — one he could call back to three years later when Kobe gave him the sage advice that would help him navigate changing the trajectory of his career.
Klay Thompson was present during that game as well. In fact, he finished with 25 points. And I think it’s safe to say that Kobe’s heroic free throws after such a devastating injury served as inspiration for Klay to do the same when he tore his ACL in the 2019 Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
This is what Kobe left behind.
The championships are one thing. The memories are another. And at the end of the day, once things die down and people are able to navigate the healing process of losing someone who seemed larger than life, it’s things like this — lessons like this — that will truly live on forever.
Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Kerry Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan.