With one simple but unexpected decision yesterday, America felt the end of one of its most oppressive eras
Did you hear the news? Did you see it?
Did you feel it?
Yesterday, the banner of oppression innocuously floated down from the rafters and the flag of equality was draped over the shoulders of all who’d fought so hard and loved so much in ignominy for so long.
#lovewins trended—became a thing.
It wasn’t a unanimous decision, not by any accounts. There’s hand-wringing and self-absorbed diatribe which will surely live in the annals of history as a man out of step with the moment—placed on this earth at the precise wrong time in the name of doing good but instead scorching everything in his wake.
His kicking and screaming and fabricated self-deprecation and dominance ruled for years, created and destroyed dynasties—crumbled kingdoms.
And reign would have no end.
Until they finally did it.
They finally said enough.
The Buss family put an end to the Kobe Bryant administration.
And the palm trees swayed and the sun peeked seductively through the apartment blinders and phone calls could be heard with clarity once more even though the convertible top is down.
Randy Newman sang it from the rooftops: He loves it. He loves it. He. Loves. It.
The cracked and forgotten aqueducts were flooded with a sea of unfettered happiness and the proles who’ve waited nearly two decades for the end of this regime poured themselves into the streets; screaming, dancing, laughing—the end of tyranny and the beginning of, well, something.
The Lakers, with the ping pong ball bouncing their way in May, were blessed with the number two pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Those who watch the revitalized run, pass and shoot league with fervor (<-This Guy) would be interested in the draft for the first time, in, I don’t know—since 1984 when Sam Bowie became his generation’s Ruth-to-the-Yankees for $125k.
Were it still Kobe’s team, the Lakers would have taken Duke superfrosh Jahlil Okafor; someone to sneak down low and wait for an offensive board after one of Kobe’s 30-something 28-footer attempts to bang off the Staples scoreboard and clang the back rim.
One more chance for the man in the 24 jersey be the man and the Lakers turned to to scratch their way back to middle-of-the-pack relevance, perhaps an 8 seed, in the West.
But that didn’t happen.
Instead, the most storied franchise on the West Coast and the only team in the world which can dim the house lights nightly to make those yellow warmups shine brighter than Paula Abdul’s smile, decided to leave the past in the detritus of forgotten headlines, cheesy pseudo-documentaries; the fake smile and the dust in the trophy case.
They chose D’Angelo Russell.
Russell is the future, now.
He’s a true guard who plays bigger than he is. He distributes with impunity. He craves the ball in crunch time. He steps most sure when the lights are brightest. He’s mastered the pick and roll and he (starts and) finishes in transition.
If you’re looking at basketball’s blueprint for the next decade, Russell is the coffee cup ring staining the middle.
Second-year guard Jordan Clarkson will be Russell’s second in command. Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak will likely try to bring in Kevin Love (the LA native fits the Lakers like a bespoke three-piece) or LaMarcus Aldridge to add a little heft and sway.
And now you’ve got a team that can run, that can play big or small and can re-engage the Laker faithful and finally put to rest this whole Clippers debate.
Nevertheless, one man will be left on the wing. Clapping for the ball. Wondering where it all went. Do the 33,000 points matter? Do the five titles matter? Do the million jerseys sold matter?
Yes. Yes it all does. Kobe’s achievements, while never breathtaking, are noteworthy. He is the bridge between the future Jordan did portend and the actualization of it in today’s crop of shooters, scorers, defenders and role players—teams that play together, win together. Kobe made the game his during the NBA’s dark ages. Or maybe it was the dark ages because the game was about Kobe.
That will be for history to decide…starting now.
Because Kobe’s time has passed. It’s over for good.
And #lovewins again.