“Lakers–Memorial Service-1 For Memory”
They laughed…they cried.
They had heavy hearts and forever memories.
They expressed thanks and extended hands and hugs.
20,000 showed up at the Staples Center to remember Kobe Bryant.
It was moving, it was pretty, it was sad, sometimes it was fun.
Vanessa Bryant, the grieving widow, showed enormous strength talking about the death of her oldest daughter, Gigi.
She wept, paused, and you could sense those in the arena weeping too.
She spoke openly of the player, the man, the father, the husband, that Kobe Bryant became.
Michael Jordan had tears streaming down his face during his eulogy, talking about Bryant, as his ‘little brother’.
Shaquille O’Neal cracked jokes, dropped an MF-bomb telling stories, and then got choked up saying farewell to his fallen teammate.
Rob Pelinka, Kobe’s agent-turned Lakers GM, described Bryant’s philosophy, ‘enjoy the road-even the hard road.’
Gino Auriemma, the legendary coach at U-Conn laughed talking about Bryant, the most uncoachable player, calling him for advice on how to coach…then got choked up talking about hard it is for the family left behind.
It was a who’s who of greatness.
I wish Lakers owner Jeannie Buss would have spoken. She has returned stability and glitter to the franchise.
Phil Jackson and Pat Riley and Jerry West were there, but silent, people the most responsible for putting Bryant in a position to excel.
Name an NBA star of the past, Bill Russell to Elgin Baylor to Kareem Abul Jabbar-they arrived.
Lakers players, Clippers players, modern day stars from James Hardin to Steph Curry, to Klay Thompson were there to remember.
It was two hours of heartache, but somewhere by the end, you hoped it gave help to those who grieved the most.
If it were held at the LA Coliseum, it would have been 72,000 on hand. They had 80,000 requests for tickets in the arena and sold out to raise money for Kobe’s Mamba-Charity.
In modern day sports, I don’t think we have ever seen a turnout of such dignity for an athelete.
Maybe never since Babe Ruth’s funeral in 1947 in baseball thruout New York.
I got choked up, it was so sad. I hate funerals of families and friends. But I am glad I experienced this.
It will be reshown on the Lakers Sportsnet Channel. Give it a glance. It is worth the time, despite the price of the emotions you will pay.
There may be other great players to come to the NBA. There will be great teams in the future, maybe even a dynasty somewhere.
I don’t think there will ever be any more loved in LA than Kobe Bryant was, an amazing accomplishment when you consider the greatness of the franchise, and its banners, and its stars of years past.
As Bryant would say…”Mamba-out”. But as I say “Mamba-never to be forgotten”