The Wisdom of a Legend: Kobe Bryant.
Since I was 12 years old, I told everyone that Kobe Bryant was the best player in the world. It was never an objective thing - He was just my hero. You can't be objective about your heroes. You loyally vouch for them, even when they are not the best. You take their criticism and you handle the blows that are dealt to their greatness. You mentally and emotionally figure out what to do when they let you down, and like a distant parent, you build them back up in your head and heart even though they don't know who you are. Kobe Bryant would be the only human that would make me nervous to meet.
Kobe Bryant has 2 more seasons max. He has nothing to prove anymore. He is arguably in the top 5 players to ever play the game. In my opinion, he is the best - better than Michael, Magic, Larry, Wilt, Bill, etc. If he stops at the 5 championships he has, people will always say he got 1 less than MJ. Sure - history is all set up for him - he was been given an older yet phenomenal supporting cast to help him get 2 more championships. He would ride in the sunset like a champion fighter. Claiming his glory as better than MJ, and giving Los Angeles something to smile about for years to come. Just a few months ago, people thought the Lakers could contend for a championship, and the great one would get his 6th championship to tie his own mental version of greatness - Michael Jordan.
But reality collides with fairy tales and leaves the Laker loyalists in a state of absolute disbelief, numbness, and frustration. The Lakers are a complete mess. They have not only performed far below expectations, but have reached rock bottom. You cannot get much worse than their current state. Sometimes reality is a beautiful reminder of what we have left in us. In the midst of such Laker disarray, never have I been more proud of my hero than I am in this moment. He is not winning games, he is not leading them to the forefront of the NBA, he is not silencing his critics, nor is he even contending with Michael Jordan - but I believe that he is at the center of his destiny. I believe he is at the forefront of his legacy - in the forefront of his greatness. I believe he is becoming the person and the player that 17 years in the league has prepared him for - more boldly, what God has and is preparing him for.
After snapping a 6 game losing streak with a win against the Cavs, Kobe Bryant addressed the media last night. He talked about how the media and people give so much attention to individuals. They highlight what individuals are doing wrong to contribute to a teams' loss. They put so much attention on the individual, that the individuals make success and fixing the problem about themselves. They overcompensate and inflame their own egos, and in the end become extremely counter-productive. He said that his job was to take away the blows to the individual. He mentioned that there is a tendency to think about what "I can do" versus what the team must do as a collective.
Kobe's wisdom and maturity comes from being a superstar in a kid's body. Coming to the NBA at age 17 and being expected to perform with 30 year olds is not an easy task. In the latter part of his career, he is becoming INVISIBLE. He is able to push the players around him in an "un-Kobe" sort of way. In many ways, he is decreasing so that his team can increase. There is alot of talk about Kevin Durant, and Lebron James. There is alot of talk about how Kobe is too old. Critics love to destroy him, because he can take it. He will never shrivel under pressure. He is better when he is pushed. He becomes the beast that he is when there is a challenge.
This year, it doesn't matter if the Lakers win a championship. I believe they will make an unbelievable push. I believe the second half of the season will be one of the greatest Laker comebacks in the history of the NBA. I believe that Kobe Bryant will win alot more hearts than he has in the past. I believe his legacy will be restored, and renewed in a brand new way.
The Devil is like the media. He entices us to individualize our problem, our weakness, and flaw. The Enemy likes us to be counter-productive. It is our duty to take back what is ours. In a marriage or team dynamic, we have to reclaim the joys of working as a unit. We have to take back the power of the ego. We need to heal from our individuality. We must function with respect to the team, because the individual does not have all the goods to win on his/her own.
In 2013, may we be proud of developing in ways that are not externally obvious or glamorous. May we kill the old, and increase the Spirit within us. May we foster true team dynamics, and stay invisible until an appropriate Visibility overcomes us. May we not be the source of visibility, but a vessel for the invisible realm to manifest. Kudos to you Mr. Bryant - for staying true to basketball, your team, and the process. Kudos to you for restoring the team dynamic, and best of all - for reconciling with your wife and restoring the sanctity of marriage in your own life. I have never been more proud of my hero - Here's to an unreal 2013. Invisible. Stay Small. Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.