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Dec 03

Never Easy – Sports Talk With Anthony Bonelli And More

Coming to the realization that your body is not as strong as it once was is a difficult thing to come to terms with for anyone, but for a professional athlete some might argue that this fact is even harder to accept. Any sports fan has had that dream of making the game-winning shot as time expires, or scoring the game-winning touchdown. Kobe Bean Bryant was no different; since he was young he strived to turn that dream of making the game-winning shot into a reality. Bryant over his 20 year career has turned that dream into a reality 14 times, only one shy of the all-time record held by Ray Allen. Bryant has given himself a deadline to either tie or surpass this record, as on Sunday he announced that this season will be his last.

Watching the early part of this season I am sure most people are not surprised at the announcement he made, because it is clear that he is not who he once was, and maybe some people think he should us retired after last season. People might be right in their criticism, but think about it, he not only has to accept the fact that his body is not what it once was, but he also has to say goodbye to the NBA, and the game that he loves. We have all been there, some of us may not have had to say goodbye to a game that we love, but sometimes we have to give up something we love to improve our well-being, for example, people who are on diets sometimes have to give up certain foods that they enjoy in order to lose the weight they want to lose, take a minute even if you have not experienced this and think about how hard that is or might be.

When I first heard the news that Bryant is retiring after this year, the first emotion I felt was one of disbelief, disbelief that he has been in the league for 20 years. Then I felt sadness because one of my idols growing up is now a shell of his former self. Then a feeling of nostalgia came over me, because I remembered screaming with delight at the television as the Los Angeles Lakers were victorious in three NBA finals in a row in the years 2000, 2001, and 2002.

As someone who has never experienced the thrills of being a basketball player, those being making a game-winning shot or flying through the air and slamming a basketball through a net, I tend to admire more than just a player’s physical talents, I am more so admire a player’s work ethic and determination. When Bryant came into the league in 1996 straight out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, people doubted whether he was ready for the NBA. Bryant gradually started to prove to people that he was ready for all the NBA had to offer. How did he do this you ask, he did it by never being satisfied with where he was in terms of his development as a player, how could I tell he was never satisfied with where he was, the answer is simple, by the fire in his eyes. I am not going to lie Bryant has dazzled me with his physical talents over the course of his career, but the reason why I admire him most is because of that fire that could never be extinguished in his eyes.

This is not goodbye as there are 65 games left in your Hall of Fame career, but Mr. Bryant I want to say thank you for helping me love the game of basketball. Although I will never have the opportunity to enjoy winning an NBA Championship, or winning an NBA Most Valuable Player Award like you, watching you made me feel like I was a champion and a most valuable player, because I felt like I was on top of the world while watching you, because you have amazed me with your unbelievable talents and your work ethic. I know the decision to say goodbye to a game you love was not easy, I urge you to savor every moment of your last season, and I will give you the advice I give all of the players I coach, relax and have fun, because that is why you play this game! Thank you for the memories Mr. Bryant, they are memories I will never forget! I wish you all the best in your next career, whatever that may be. I will see you in Springfield Massachusetts in just a few years!