Man it’s been busy as heck and this post is way delayed, so let’s just get it done and wrap this baby up. Here are some of my remaining pics of Kobe’s visit.
So as I mentioned last time we went ahead of everyone else to Ultra (Philsports Arena) and this is what greeted us, empty stands and the hosts just hanging out.
A few minutes later the place started to fill up..
He explained he was going to do some offensive drills and chose ADMU forward Nico Salva. Incidentally I had been heaping praises on this guy last May when I covered the Nike Summer League and saw for myself his impressive play, particularly on defense and rebounding.
Kobe proceeded to drill him for a good 20 minutes. Post up plays, post up with ball fakes, step back jumpers and twirls..
All ten shots each so by the time it was over Salva was visibly drained. And the fact that Ultra’s air conditioning wasn’t working made sure that we felt tired along with him! I cannot emphasize any more how steaming HOT the place was.
Next up was another player whose name escapes me (sorry). He’s same height as Kobe and played him one on one. Credit nerves or whatever, but he played pretty badly and was sadly jeered by the crowd, so I liked it when he just picked himself up and kept trying. Check the vid I found:
His teammates of course, were all itching to give it a go, but unfortunately spent most of their time on their butts watching.
After the drills and all that was pretty much it. Kobe then started to throw autographed Nike balls into the crowd and the place went ape.
A few minutes later into that after pictorials with his fans and me negotiating a way out the ultra, he gets into his limo and takes off.
And.. that’s it!
To be completely frank, 2007’s visit was better because there was a lot more lead time. The same venue was far more packed and at the very least, the air-conditioning worked! A bigger crowd also meant a more animated one and they even asked him to make special dunks for the crowd.
As for me, seeing him in the flesh was slightly surreal especially after watching so much of the Playoffs and the Finals. Truth is, I’m neither a Kobe fan nor hater. I honestly feel I don’t know him that much to make any sort of judgement that’d make him either an idol or villain.
From a distance though, and from what I know of basketball and of life, I see him as a winner. I look at the guy and I see someone who has worked and clawed his way to carve an amazing career for himself, and I feel good about that. It’s good to see someone pour in the effort and get rewarded with success. I mean, that’s how it’s supposed to be, right? You work your butt off, you focus on your goals and play your best, and you win in the end. That, for me, epitomizes who he is.
Mind you, there are many other people around us in less glamorous careers and industries that achieve the same results everyday. I know people who are very good at what they do, who try to do all the right things and strive to perfect their craft, eventually to succeed in their careers. Kobe is no more or less than some of these people I know. He lives in a world of hundred million dollar contracts and the press hounding his every move, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the same. Kobe preaches hard work, discipline and dedication to your chosen profession, all of which are traits available to each and every one of us and all of which we can apply in what we do.
I look at him and I look at the thousands of people in that place and I’m thinking – I hope all of you understand this. I hope all of you GET IT. For the life of me I honestly feel as if all his preaching about the benefits of hard work fall on mostly deaf ears. In my estimation, they came here to see dunks, or watch him do something spectacular. But if you think about it, training a packed arena basketball drills is spectacular, in that at some point you’d be able to use those to make better yourself, and wouldn’t that be the most worthwhile show of all?
But then I’m making far too much sense am I? Isn’t it easier to just hate him? To just say, nah, I don’t like him, he sucks, pepper it with expletives and naturally bring up past transgressions? Well sure, if that’s your thing I guess. Just don’t expect to be bringing home any trophies soon. Trust me you’re not the type.