Let’s face it, our youth is over and Kobe Bryant is to blame. On Nov. 29, the NBA legend posted a poem online to reveal that his career will come to an end after the 2015-16 season. For those who follow the NBA religiously, it’s really not much of a surprise considering Bryant’s injuries in recent years and his inability to take over games like he did in the past.
But to see the words, “My body knows it’s time to say goodbye,” made every single child born in the ’80s feel old. Of course, the poem was about Bryant’s love for the game and his decision to step away, but he represented something more for the generation who grew up on Super Nintendo, 2 Pac and Biggie, and movies such as Friday and The Matrix.
The first time I heard about Bryant was while reading a short article in SLAM magazine as a middle-schooler. The article basically detailed how Bryant, 17, planned to jump from high school to the NBA following his senior year in high school. Several months later, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Bryant via a trade with the Charlotte Hornets. From that point on, Bryant’s presence became somewhat of a fixture to the ‘80s babies who followed sports.
I remember being a freshman in high school and arguing with friends about his one-on-one battle with Michael Jordan during his first NBA All-Star appearance; I recall hanging out with college buddies at the defunct Run & Shoot gym when Bryant won his first title in 2000; It’s easy to think back to 2003 when those same college buddies and I wondered if Bryant’s career would be over due to an alleged rape that occurred in Colorado; and it seems like a few short years ago that I got the opportunity to interview him for the first time following a game with the Atlanta Hawks in 2008.
Whether you were a Kobe hater or not, you stopped what you were doing to watch him play because he was one of the last figures from the ’90s who still maintained prominence.
But the Kobe Bryant we knew in the late ‘90s and 2000s is no longer with us. Time plays a cruel joke on everyone who thinks that even greatness can somehow defeat its wrath. And Bryant’s upcoming exit from the NBA is somewhat of a last dance with youth for the generation of children born in the 1980s.