As a child growing up, Allen Iverson was my favorite player. So I hated Kobe Bryant. I challenged everything any of his fans ever said about him and his greatness. I even gave credit to other players on his teams instead of him just to try to prove my point even further. But that was all hate, because I always knew how great he was. Kobe Bryant was great for basketball. His play on the court was unmatched by many who challenged him for the bulk of his career.
I had so many Kobe memories. The first one I had of him was when he beat Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals, which started my hatred. I remember him hitting game winner after game winner. It felt like every night he played he did something clutch. Dunking on Dwight Howard. The alley-oop to Shaq. Banking in a game winner against Wade. Scoring 81 points in a single game. Beating the Celtics in the Finals. Scoring 60 points in his final game. And my favorite Kobe game in my memory might have to be when he beat the Suns in 2006 on two clutch plays.
But of all the memories, there are none that stand out bigger for many people then his alleged rape case. Being young, I didn't really understand fully what had happened, but all I knew was that the media was making Kobe out to be a bad person because of a mistake he had made in his personal life. The allegations are obviously very serious, and in no way do I condone anything that he was accused of doing. But what I do know is that everybody makes mistakes, even you. Some of us just make bigger mistakes than others.
Kobe Bryant was a great basketball player on the court, regardless of the mistakes he made in his life. We can't judge people based on their mistakes, but we can help them learn from their mistakes and push them to be a better person. When the world was against Kobe, he challenged himself to be better. We must remember that we are all human, and none of us will ever get this life thing perfect. Instead of tearing people down, we need to build them up to be better. We are all the same race, and we all must share our earth and our time together in the most positive way possible in order to improve as one large community. So next time you see someone make a mistake, pick them up, don't tear them down.
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.