Mamba

8

January 27, 2020-

The fog that can roll in, off any given coastline, shoreline or river bank, as air temperature changes, can render even the best of navigators helpless.  There have been several times, over the years, when I have arrived safely at a destination only because the car was in good shape and there were no impediments, other than the lack of visibility.

I leave it to the experts, to figure out what went horribly wrong, yesterday, when nine people, including former National Basketball Association player, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, were killed in a helicopter crash, near Calabasas, CA, outside Los Angeles.  Of course, conspiracy theories have already surfaced, but no matter. The bottom line is, a highly-talented and accomplished basketball player and teacher who, like the rest of us, had his flaws, is dead.

His legacy:  Both good-the Mamba Basketball Academy, philanthropy for women’s sports-especially for basketball, and a graceful reconciliation with his beautiful and intelligent wife; and bad- at least one badgered and dishonoured victim of a serious misstep, 17 years ago, is all too common among those who have either worked diligently (as Kobe Bryant certainly did) or have inherited good fortune, in reaching the upper echelons of society.  “Rank has its privileges” has been, thankfully, countered by the #MeToo movement.  Let’s leave that aspect of Mr. Bryant’s life, for a later date. To the degree we come back to it all, it should only be for whatever healing society is willing to afford the savaged victim, especially as he was not the only one who hurt her. Victim blamers have their own burden of guilt.

The improvement, in the conduct of professional basketball, had much to do with Kobe Bryant’s example, on the court-and, in his later years, off court as well.  His “Mamba” ethic, relentless in pursuit of a goal, in a sport at which he excelled, has proven to be well-emulated   He saw competitors as comrades- a fact well-borne out by the torrent of tribute, all quite heart-felt, from NBA players, past and present.  He saw his duty, as a citizen and social icon, as far outweighing any hubris and egoism that may have gotten in his way.  Thus, he made raising strong daughters his mission.  Thus, he maintained a wide variety of friendships, across social strata.  Thus, his last public act was congratulating the man who surpassed him in total league scoring:  LeBron James.

We are, each of us, such works in progress.  I only wish for that progress to continue in the spirit world, for Kobe Bryant, and for all who made great work of their physical lives, even if they stumbled, and fell hard.  Rest in Peace, Mamba.