What a sombre day it has been in sports today… Two major figures in the sports memory of my teens and early 20’s of two men in particular who stood out as dominant: Kobe Bryant announced his retirement from the NBA at the end of the season and Jonah Lomu passed away and had one of the most beautiful public sendoffs you’ve ever witnessed; both had their bodies of work celebrated, and in the case of the latter, his entire life honoured.
Kobe – Baller:Interrupted
Firstly, Kobe. He is a polarizing figure to me as an ex-Laker fan. I won’t bore you with the details of why I’m not a Laker fan anymore other than to say, that during the split of Shaquille O Neal and Kobe Bryant, seeing the Laker organization pick Kobe over Shaq was a disappointment. Shaq went to the Miami Heat, and my allegiances went with him. I discovered Dwyane Wade, and the rest is history…
Before Kanye, there was Kobe – brashly confident, but always had the skills to back up his claims. 20 years after his debut in the NBA, he’s deciding to hang up the, well, “Kobe’s”. What is interesting to note was his response though as to why he was quitting the game:
(courtesy Bleacher Report)
Jonah: From Southside to World
Meanwhile, within the same 24 hours, undoubtably the most famous Rugby Player ever, who grew up in the Southside of the city of Auckland where I grew up, Jonah Lomu, had his public funeral service at the “Mecca of World Rugby”, Eden Park in Auckland. I watched with millions of others across the world today as we mourned the departure of such a brooding and uniquely gifted yet humble figure in world sports.
And what a beautiful tribute it was for Jonah; to see men who I grew up watching avidly as a loyal All Blacks supporter as well as Jonah’s family and friends mourn this legendary sportsmans’ passing, it was sobering for me to think for a moment, remembering that Jonah and I are the same age.
Kobe is younger than me by 3 years. From the outside looking in, we can critique, as admittedly I have done in the past, someone who is so avidly intense in the pursuit of greatness (or coming out of the shadow of Michael Jordan), but primarily in terms of basketball. I can easily point the finger and say that what I’m living for is greater than an inflated ball, whether oval or circular, but then it’s back on me; then I must live my life out greatly to the glory of that which deserves my attention, affection and dedication. I’ve been challenged by both the careers and lives of Kobe and Jonah to remember today that this life is extremely finite, and that it’s to be lived intentionally poured out – there’s no point playing it safe knowing that it will all come to an end sooner or later.
James 4:14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Thanks Jonah and Kobe for so many years of being the worlds best, and providing such once-in-a -lifetime entertainment over the last 20+ years. Faafetai lava…