I was 8 years old when Kobe first came into the league. Despite growing up 30 min outside of LA, at the time I was rooting MJ and the Chicago Bulls on. My pops however (who immigrated from South Korea in the late 1980's) was decidedly a homer, solidified by witnessing Magic and Lakers win the 1987 and 1988 NBA Finals. After MJ beat the Jazz in back to back years and retired from the league, my focus fell solely onto the Lakers who were hungry for another ring. There was a bizarre rumor going around at my school that Del Harris the Lakers head coach had a Lakers tattoo on his dick. Therefore I was relieved to see a familiar face in the hiring of Phil Jackson which kicked off a run that would conclude in 2010 with Kobe's 5th championship in seven Finals appearances.
What I admired most about Kobe was his fucking determination. We all remember Kobe airballing in the final moments of the playoff series against the Jazz. I didn't know this until recently but Kobe went back to work that SAME night putting shots up knowing he'd need to drain those buckets in the future. That he WOULD. When you root for a team for decades, as a fan there's certain things you look for in the best player. It's soul crushing to lose a big game due to a lack of preparation or some mental error (i.e. JR SMITH) and especially fear of 'the moment'. The one thing you knew going into every game with Kobe is that his preparation was 2nd to none and he wasn't scared of anything. And if the opportunity came for a last second shot that Kobe would throw it up with no hesitation and a clear mind. Even if he missed that bitch you know Kobe shot with that thang with confidence. That "killer instinct" if you will, Kobe had that shit without question.
The fact is in ways I didn't understand until much later in my life, I learned a lot of life lessons from watching sports. Like how "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take". That you can only control what you can control. How elusive success can be and the fact that it's damn near predicated on failure. Half of this shit is just taking it day by day so that you can be in the position to stumble upon an opportunity that propels your forward. "You gotta be in it to win it" sort of thing. This shit is embedded somewhere in my brain which might have been the one determining factor in me not quitting on the dream all those years back. I kinda owe a lot of that to watching Kobe. I know I do.