Browse all

The meaning of the celebration of Kobe and Gianna Bryant

20 thousand people at the Staples Center for the last farewell to Lakers legend

The meaning of the celebration of Kobe and Gianna Bryant 20 thousand people at the Staples Center for the last farewell to Lakers legend

The Staples Center in Los Angeles, the home of Kobe Bryant for 20 years, yesterday was the setting for one of the most touching events that the NBA and sports remember. In the evening "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" time seems to have stopped, the world seems to have stopped. Against any cliché about the "exaggerated" style of the Americans, the Los Angeles Lakers arena is the stage for a real celebration of life, with a dense lineup of guests who wanted to remember the Mamba and Mambacita, as the name of the foundation just born.

A long event, but at the same time full of intense emotions, interspersed with musical performances that only Hollywood can create. The guests, the many players present, the 20.000 fans who occupied the Staples Center, Jimmy Kimmel himself: nobody managed to hold back the tears.

Vanessa Bryant's 21-minute speech was heartbreaking and touching, intimate and personal, addressing her husband as if he had never left. It is a speech that exudes humanity, conveys precisely that sense of life that was in the idea of the mother of Gianna, Capri, Natalia and Bianca.

The story of Kobe Bryant's "best friend, wife, first girl" is going around the world, moving everyone. The first to intervene on stage, precisely to open a path of testimonies that celebrate the man and the father, even before the player.

A couple of weeks before they passed, Kobe sent me a sweet text and mentioned how he wanted to spend time together. Just the two of us without our kids, because I’m his best friend first. We never got the chance to do it. Babe, you take care of our Gigi, and I got Nani, BB, and Koko. We are still the best team. We love and miss you booboo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace, and have fun in Heaven until we meet again.

Nothing else to add. The rest is landscape, a landscape that soon colors the notes of  Alicia Keys (who plays Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on piano), Cristina Aguilera's Ave Maria and above all Beyonce's sweet voice. The performance of Jay-Z's wife is perhaps the best musical moment of the evening, with a particularity that not everyone has noticed. The Texan artist sang a delicate version of XO and later Halo. During the 2013 song, he also edited the lyrics. The original verse "I'm crashing into you" became "I'm laughing into you", a detail that made the difference.

Before the change of text, the singer also took a personal moment, moving away from the performance and explaining why she was there.

I’m here because I love Kobe, and this was one of his favorite songs. So I want to start that over but I want us to do it all together. I want you to sing it so loud, he can hear the love. Are you all ready? I love you.

Besides music, beyond the exciting speeches of Diana TaurasiSabrina Ionescu and Geno Auriemma (testifying to Kobe's attention to women's basketball), three people very close to Kobe Bryant touched three different people. The speech by Rob Pelinka, agent of Kobe and now GM of the Lakers, but above all one of the closest friends of Mamba, followed the theme of the commemoration: Kobe as a father was even better than Kobe as a basketball player. He remembered his humanity, his last gesture of availability and generosity.

The second speech was that of his friend-enemy, one of those whom Kobe loved and hated at the same time, one of the former teammates who was most shocked by the news of Bryant's death. We are obviously talking about Shaquille O'Neal, Laker with whom Kobe shared a Three-peat (2000, 2001, 2002). Among the jokes about his free technique to the memory of a brother who has always respected, despite the contrasts.

Last but not least, Vanessa wanted Michael Jeffrey Jordan on stage, the man who inspired Kobe to become a legend. MJ's speech was the most important moment after Vanessa's, a time when the best of all time opened up and showed himself human, as was done only on the occasion of his introduction into the Hall of Fame. Kobe was a brother to him, a person he spoke with. everything, especially after the withdrawal of #24. The tears of the legend of the Bulls - which calls itself a meme making everyone laugh - involve the entire Staples Center.

The list of those who wanted to participate in this event is very long: obviously there are dad Joe and mom Pam with the sisters Sharia and Shaya; Commissioner Adam Silver alongside the Lakers' legends Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor and Kareem Abdul-Jabar; former teammates like Brian Shaw, Steve Nash, Derek Fisher, Byron Scott, Metta World Peace and Lamar Odom; icons such as Gregg Popovich, Bills Russell, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, Scottie Pippen, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Phil Jackson; players in activity such as Devin Booker, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis; managers such as Doc Rivers, Jeanie Buss and Bob Myers; show business characters like Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West; sports personalities such as Michael Phelps and Alex Rodriguez.

There are obviously the current Lakers players, with one particularity: LeBron James. Earlier in the day, James posted a photo of Gianna and Kobe numbers on his social networks, adding the infinity symbol. During the ceremony, however, he was never framed by careful cameras. It cannot be an accident, but simply a choice. Many wondered if he was really at the Staples Center or if he was absent. The presence was confirmed by the Los Angeles Times and another small detail. Diana Taurasi, an icon of the WNBA, mentioned LeBron in her speech and immediately afterwards she turned to the left side of the stage, as if she were looking for him with her eyes.