Dear Basketball: A Veiled Tribute to Kobe
I’m writing you this letter because I wanted you to hear it from me first. We had a good run. When I was a new middle school student with no friends in 7th grade, you befriended me. Again, in 8th grade after moving across the ocean, you were my primary friend. Throughout the years, not only were you my friend but everywhere I went you introduced me to new friends—great people. For that I will be forever grateful. When I had no money for college or graduate school, you pitched in. In many ways, you were a model friend and confidante. I loved you. After college, I invested several years into teaching others how to love and respect you—even though I knew at some point you would disappoint them as well.
Along with the good memories, however, there are many bad ones. Every time the basketball season ended prematurely, I cried and sometimes hated you. You always demanded my mind, body, and emotions. Our journey took a toll on me. At 19, our relationship cost me an injured Achilles. At 21, I had stress fractures in both feet. Now at 37, many years later, at times it hurts to walk because of the years of wear you put on my knees. In addition, our relationship never blossomed as I thought it would. Sometimes, I wonder if we would have tried harder—where would that have taken us? Sometimes regrets creep back into my mind, “What if’s?” and “Why not’s?” In addition, your friends are always encouraging me to give us another try.
Again, I wanted you to hear it from me first. I am officially retiring from basketball. I know it’s been several years since we’ve spent serious time together, but the door was always open. I want you to know our time was great and I’m thankful. But, you’ve always kind of liked younger athletes, and I just can’t keep up with you anymore.
I’m a little conflicted about whether I should introduce you to my daughter. She’s fast, smart, and athletic. I know you would like her, and she would probably like you. However, I know your relationship would only be temporary and most likely leave her with a broken heart and a scarred body like mine. Give me some time—I’m still praying about it. I know that just because it’s a seasonal relationship and not a life-time relationship doesn’t mean it’s not worth the investment. There are many things that she could learn from you and, hey, maybe she’ll even teach you a thing or two.
It’s hard for me to say this, but honestly I hold no regrets. Thanks for the memories and the chance to get to know you—even if it was short-lived. I pray that God uses you to change many other lives for the better, even as He did with mine.