I have a special place in my heart for Kobe. We were both new comers to LA in the late 90’s. He was an up-and-coming superstar in a great city… and I was a wanna-be entrepreneur in this same great city. Kobe, Shaq, and team struggled in the beginning – as did I. Learning about myself; trying to figure myself out; strengths; weaknesses; teammates.
I observed Kobe. Kobe studied MJ (my childhood idol) and became the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan. (Read MJ – The Life – and there’s a really good chapter in there about how Jordan knew Kobe was “The One”). Kobe was relentless. His work ethic was not to be matched. Kobe was a terrific player, but his leadership was suspect – and he needed to improve in this area. While crafting his game as one of the best the world had ever seen, he learned how to increase his leadership lid. Kobe stumbled in his personal life and created many haters – myself included. He showed us how to bounce back. His family showed us how to forgive and move on. Kobe made me a fan again; he made a lot of us fans again. Kobe gave us hope in ourselves bouncing back – no matter what we were dealing with.
Los Angeles experienced something really cool, and fans partied. I have so many fond memories of walking out of Staples Center, local restaurants, my office – and celebrating with my fellow Angelinos. There’s something really cool about high-fiving everyone (fans at the game, fans in the restaurants, the homeless people on the street). The city really unified and became one – and it seemed that one’s social status meant nothing. We were all Lakers fans. Nothing else mattered. I fell in love with LA; and LA became home.