Did you ever see the movie Fallen with Denzel Washington?  Denzel’s antagonist in the movie kept singing these few bars over and over in the movie, “Time is on my side.  Yes, it is.”  The antagonist was right too because he was immortal.  These same few notes could have been the soundtrack on an endless loop for Kobe’s 17th season in the NBA.  The monotony of the song lulled us into a dream-like state where we began to believe that a 34-year old man with an indomitable spirit could carry 14 other teammates kicking and screaming across the rubicon into the playoff promised land.  All of sudden last week, the record scratched and the Staples Center fell silent.  Kobe grimaced and grabbed his left foot.  Over the past 17 years, Kobe’s legend had grown to near mythological proportions and the hero in all myths tend to have one fatal flaw, one Achilles heel and that Achilles heel snapped and broke the hearts of the Laker Nation.

It was sad to see him leave the floor that way in what some believe could be his final game in a Lakers uniform.  Yet, the sadness that I felt is not for him.  Kobe is currently one of the most successful individuals in America.  There is no reason to feel sadness for him.  I could spend time recounting his numerous achievements, but I think that his 2013 All-Star jacket which bore his resume tells a better story.

The sadness that I felt is for myself.  One of the reasons that many of us find our heroes in sport is that athletes seem to have the power to cheat the laws of time and gravity that bind the rest of us.  Kobe made us believe that we could ignore the ever increasing number of candles on our birthday cakes or the aches and pains coming from the knees and backs.  Kobe, at age 34, was 3rd in the league in scoring and was 2nd in minutes per game this season.  He was ageless.  We saw him and we believed a little more in ourselves.  Kobe beat back Father Time and we can too.  In the end, I guess that the load of his other 14 teammates was too great and his body gave out.  In that moment,  I felt sadness, but it was the sadness of being reminded that Father Time always wins.

I believe wholeheartedly that he will return.  The passion burning in his eyes in his post-game press conference reminded me of the eyes of a broken Anakin Skywalker in one of the final scenes of the most recent Star Wars movie.  Would you bet against him?  I would not.

See you in 2014, Black Mamba.    Come back and make us believe that Father Time can be defeated. May the Force Be With You!

– GPA Baller

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