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Alba Iulia
Monday, June 21, 2021

Pass it on, Kobe

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THAD MANGALINO | The Inner Game
For comments or feedback, email thadmangalino@gmail.com

I awoke early to a text message from a friend. “Kobe Bryant passed!” I laughed and replied “Rubbish! Are you being funny? Kobe never passes the ball and he retired in 2016.” Within a few seconds I received the reply, “Check Twitter or TMZ, helicopter crashed and Kobe was a passenger.”

It all of a sudden became a “Where were you when John Lennon got shot?” moment. I was gobsmacked and I was just there at my kitchen looking at my cup of coffee, then as I continued reading the newsfeed my daughter walked in and asked, “Can I please have eggs for breakfast?”

It hit me that life is short and precious. I have the confidence in saying that Kobe would have been happy to give away one of his NBA Championship rings for a chance to cook eggs for his daughters again.

I do not want to cheapen or nominate Kobe for sainthood. Kobe means a lot to different people. I have been on and off the Kobe bandwagon since he took Brandi to his high school senior prom. I remember “Afro Kobe” and those fresh Adidas shoes. I even put a Lakers #8 jersey on layby because I knew he was such a gifted and dynamic basketball player.

The Shaq-Kobe tandem brought back that winning feeling in Los Angeles until 2004 when the Lakers traded Shaq and there was the Kobe-Shaq feud which personally I had no vested interest in, but I took Shaq’s side and started to follow the “I hate Kobe bandwagon”.

Even in 2009, my wife and I witnessed Kobe score 40 points and dismantled the Detroit Pistons live at the Staples Center. At the back of my mind I was mumbling “If Shaq were still a Laker, there would have been more championship banners hanging from the rafters.”   

When Kobe stepped off the basketball court after 20 seasons, I saw him differently. I was already reading books and articles about Kobe. I was modelling some of his positive traits and I adopted it in my own life. I then accepted that Kobe was in a class of his own.

The first trait was Kobe’s mental toughness; Kobe was relentless and had the ability to shut out any type of distractions and perform gracefully under extreme pressure.

Secondly, Kobe did not take short cuts and always worked on the basics.

Lastly, Kobe dropped excuses and demanded excellence in everything he was working on; from investing, podcasting, story telling, setting up businesses, to coaching his daughter Gianna’s basketball team.

I also admired Kobe on how he became an involved father to his four daughters. I guess playing 82 games a season and if you are lucky to make the playoffs you potentially gain extra 20 games and not to mention the travelling and countless training sessions; it is hard to be an active father. 

But all in all, what Kobe taught me is that a person needs to make the decision to be great, you need full commitment and dedication to what you want to achieve.

Forget what the others are saying and just keep doing what you are supposed to be doing, master the basics and put in the work, and your time to shine will come.

What added to my sadness is the fact that others were involved in the crash including young Gianna Bryant.

I felt that by highlighting some of Kobe’s positive traits that we can all learn and adopt it for our own personal transformation. That is what Kobe has passed on to all of us. It is up to us to either hold on to it or pass it on to someone else.

Until next time, STAY FOCUSED!


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