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Salute to Kobe, Salute to Our Youth!

The day April 13 saw an end of an extraordinary era: the well-known basketball player Kobe Bryant would be retiring following the 2015-2016 N.B.A. season, his twentieth in the league. Here in Los Angeles, people had already prepared everything well. The day “Mamba Day” was coined to honor him, and the subway stations in LA changed its name into “Kobe station”. Each corner around the world watched, and every age tuned in. Fans in the city crowded, shouting the name “Kobe”. Outside the television, people also skipped classes or duties, just for witnessing the sacred moment together---the last battle for Kobe.     

 


The battle drum began to thunder. The whole world was greatly touched by this moment. For Kobe, the Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, it would be another competition and the last. This time, he pull out all the stops; yearning for burning out all his desire of coming back to the court again as a victorious commander returning home in triumph, he released the amazing inner self to the utmost. What he had now was infinite running, dunking and shooting. No more complaint from teammates: “It’s your game, Kobe. Don’t pass!” At the final 105 minutes, Kobe made it! He got his 50 points, he won over Shaquille O'Neal! Fans screamed and shouted, yet Kobe remained serious on his face. Exhausted as he was; there were more to burn. At the last 14.8 seconds in the game and his entire career as well, he got his 60 points! Full-court seethed, all people screamed out. He was already 37 though, his brilliant performance seemed to bring him to his zenith again. Audiences should for once forget his announcement of retirement. Kobe, a pioneer of a time, now it was time to let go.


Kobe stopped, breathing. From now on, Black Mamba snake halted, no more tongue hanging out. He strode through flying firework and colorful balloons all over the sky, smiling. In the long corridor, fans watched his back, weeping. Started from Utah, ended in Utah, it has been twenty years. A time ended; a good friend left, yet no doubt Kobe had brought us a perfect final-battle!


  
Born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kobe was the youngest of three children and the only son of Joe Bryant, former NBA basketball player and Pamela Cox Bryant. His parents named him after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan, which they saw on a restaurant menu. Bryant started playing basketball when he was 3 years old, and his favorite team growing up was the Lakers. Bryant's grandfather would mail him videos of NBA games, which young Bryant would study. And so with such a basketball-playing background, it should come as no surprise that Kobe thrived himself in the battlefield of professional basketball early in high school and skyrockets to the fabulous stage of NBA. And so this was the beginning of a great basketball player’s career.

 

 

He wears No.8; he also wears No.24. And opponents hated to see the numbers, hated Kobe for his audacity and passion to win and his hook shot. But there are also more loving him, for the same reason. After all these years, Kobe turned out to be different. In his 17, he was a bench. From 21 to 23, he was one of the little but the most ambitious followers of Shaquille O'Neal. And between 24 to 25, he endeavored to get rid of restrictions from his team even at the expense of causing a conflict with O'Neal. Then there came the three-year suffering. In his loneliness and torment, Kobe literally made something out of himself through becoming a fabulous star. He’s really changed. Remember? He used to rip out his jersey and roared when he won; he used to post alone and never pass when he marched; he used to chunk over opposing centre-forward’ head when he seized a chance. But now, as a torch bearer, he smiled and politely saluted to fans after his final shoot scored; he cooperated with teammates when rivals approached; he hook shot the ball skillfully instead of risking his body to dunk when the centre-forward stood firmly in front of him. It has been a tough time for him to become who he was now. He's really changed, but how about us?

 


We’ve changed, too. For us, youthhood has walked past us relentlessly with showing any attachment. Kobe, at that time, was a heartthrob teen idol at the bottom of virtually every teenagers’ heart. Boys imitated Kobe posting or dunking at the court and hung up all kinds of posters of Kobe on their walls; girls could not resist gossiping about this brilliant teen idol’s achievement. How time flies! As Kobe grows mature, we grows up with him. Memories that the whole 20 years carried are beyond measured. And Kobe has become the hallmark of our youth’s memory. We would sure miss him, and the instant we think about him, our youth comes along. we could not move back to the past, yet we would treasure and salute it. Just as Kobe says:"I don't want to turn the clock back even if I can, because lost is beautiful."

 


"The crowds, the chanting, people wanting to see me play – I'm extremely, extremely appreciative of that, I understand what that means. Listen, my personality isn't the rocking chair kind of thing, but the chanting of my name means enough to me." Now Kobe has left the court. There will be no more updated competition videos of him. But thank you, Kobe! For never giving in, for your conscientiousness, for your hanging onto your favorite basketball, for accompanying us to go through a wonderful time.


Kobe said to the world:
Dear Basketball,

  From the moment

  I started rolling my dad’s tube socks 

   And shooting imaginary 

  Game-winning shots 

  In the Great Western Forum  

     I knew one thing was real:  

     I fell in love with you.  

     A love so deep I gave you my all — 

     From my mind & body 

     To my spirit & soul.  

     As a six-year-old boy  

     Deeply in love with you  

     I never saw the end of the tunnel. 

  I only saw myself  

     Running out of one. 

  And so I ran. 

  I ran up and down every court 

  After every loose ball for you. 

  You asked for my hustle 

   I gave you my heart 

   Because it came with so much more.

   I played through the sweat and hurt 

  Not because challenge called me  

      But because YOU called me. 

      I did everything for YOU 

      Because that’s what you do  

     When someone makes you feel as  

     Alive as you’ve made me feel.  

     You gave a six-year-old boy his Lakers dream 

     And I’ll always love you for it. 

  But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer. 

  This season is all I have left to give. 

  My heart can take the pounding 

  My mind can handle the grind  

     But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

  And that’s OK. 

  I’m ready to let you go. 

  I want you to know now

  So we both can savor every moment we have left together. 

  The good and the bad. 

  We have given each other 

  All that we have.  

     And we both know, no matter what I do next 

  I’ll always be that kid  

    With the rolled up socks 

     Garbage can in the corner 

     05 seconds on the clock 

  Ball in my hands. 

  5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 

  Love you always,  

     Kobe 


Maybe Kobe will look back for his career life some day, but it’s time for him to enjoy his normal life. No more flying, no more wounds, no more criticism. All he need to do is being a good husband and a good father. Let’s wish every success in whatever he do on his way to the new journey. Salute!

 


 One chapter ends in life and another begins. But even if there will be another Kobe, we will not go through another youth. There is a cool basketball player; we like him very much, and his name is Kobe Bryant; there is a florid time; we will never forget, and that’s our youth. Salute to our Kobe! Salute to our youth!

 

 

Editor: Liao Wenting

 

 

  

 

 

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