Dear Kobe

There was always something about that purple and gold. Growing up in a state that has zero professional sports teams, it was a free for all as far as who you wanted to lay claim to. I knew who my dad’s favorite teams were, I knew who my uncle’s favorite teams were, and I just knew who my favorite players were. The first athlete I can remember listing as a role model was Kobe Bryant.

I was 3 years old when Kobe suited up for the first time in a Lakers uniform, and while I don’t personally remember his first game, I cannot remember a time when Kobe wasn’t there.

Now 20 years later, I’m the same age Kobe was when the Lakers won three straight titles.

When Kobe announced his retirement in November 2015, it shocked the world. We had watched Kobe suffer injury after injury the past few seasons and not once did the thought of him not being able to bounce back cross peoples’ minds. Through his letter published on The Players Tribune, Kobe talks about how he came to realize it was time to let go, and it took this season for us fans to realize that, too. As a kid your favorite athletes always seem like superheroes. Nearing 23 I still saw Kobe as invincible. Then again who wouldn’t after seeing him shoot free throws without a tendon that led to a Greek demigod’s demise?

Some people watched Kobe grow up, me, I grew up with him.

Thank you Kobe for giving a little girl who couldn’t fall in love with playing the game a reason to still love it, a reason to want to learn the game, and a reason to want to know it well enough that I could speak intelligently about it with people who played their whole lives.

Thank you Kobe for showing me that being younger doesn’t mean I’m incapable. Seeing you go up against the likes of Michael Jordan and Shaq and not backing down made me believe that age was just a number when I stepped onto the field, the track and the playground.

Thank you Kobe for showing me that being driven doesn’t make me psychotic, or maybe it does, but it’s OK. Seeing glimpses of your maniacal drive to perfect your game, it showed me that I am the only person standing in my way.

Thank you Kobe for providing countless arguments between me and my brothers on who is truly more like Michael Jordan, you or LeBron James. I think the majority of people can agree with me on this one, including M.J. himself.

Thank you Kobe for making me believe that anything is possible, for proving that an 81-point game can happen outside of a video game.

Thank you Kobe for making every time I throw a piece of paper into a trashcan the NBA finals, “KOBE!”

Thank you Kobe for making me a Lakers fan for life.

As I watched Kobe on my TV screen for the last time, I couldn’t help but think of all the hours I spent sitting on couches around the world watching him play. This season was definitely not the season I had in mind for the Black Mamba’s exit from the NBA, but his final game in Staples Center was another example of how he never fails to deliver. Sixty points and single handedly outscoring the Jazz in the final quarter and squashing their playoff hopes, could it have been any better?

“Mamba out.”

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NFL loses bargaining chip?

The NFL voted Tuesday┬áin Houston to decide which franchise would work its way back to Los Angeles. The 32 coaches in the league voted 30-2 on relocating the St. Louis Rams to the country’s second largest market that has been NFL-less for 21 years. So why now?

WHY THE RAMS?

There are a few different ideas going around on why the Rams got the go-ahead. I’d like to think the league partially thought about the fans, but some people beg to differ. I’d like to think it was a factor, for the Rams have the longest history in the city and an active fan base there.

Moving to LA the Rams will deal with plenty of competition when trying to gain new supporters. There are the Lakers and Clippers, Dodgers and Angels, Kings and Ducks, and you can’t forget the giants of it all — USC and UCLA. It was termed the Entertainment Capital of the World for a reason.

The main reason for everything the NFL does, though, is business. That is why Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s stadium design at the Old Hollywood Park Racetrack outdid the Charger/Raider Carson proposal. The multiuse center in Inglewood will cost $1.8 billion and won’t be ready until 2019, but for the money that the NFL is hoping this place will generate, it’s worth the wait.

Until their new home is built, the Rams will most likely be playing in the Coliseum.

THE TWO LEFT OUT

The Chargers were offered the option of joining the Rams either as a partner or a tenant. Owner Dean Spanos has until January 2017 to make his decision.

The main reason Spanos wants to make the move is the simple fact that San Diego has not delivered a new stadium. Qualcomm was built in 1967, and if you’ve ever been inside that place, it doesn’t look like many renovations have taken place either. But renovations won’t do this time around, and the Chargers are looking for a new home, so that means Qualcomm can’t just get gutted.

The city of San Diego is hosting a vote in June to decide on a $350 million check for the Chargers. Raiders owner Mark Davis has been calling for a new home for years now. O.co Coliseum saw renovations in 1995 but was built in 1966. Back in 2014 Davis traveled to Houston to see if there was a possibility there for his team, but as long as Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and Bob McNair of the Texans are around, no other team is stepping into their territory.

For now the Raiders are staying in Oakland, but if the Chargers choose to stay in San Diego, Davis will then get a year to decide if he wants to make the move or not. Entering a market three years after the other team though sounds lethal to me.

Additionally, the NFL has offered $100 million to assist with solutions in current markets if both teams choose to remain.

WHY NOW?

Los Angeles has been the NFL’s biggest bargaining chip since both the Rams and Raiders left the city following the 1994 season. Each team left for a smaller market thinking it would be better.

But since 1994, 22 of the league’s 32 teams have upgraded their stadiums. All a city needed to hear was, “Well we can always move to LA,” and the money came rolling out. Washington delivered $300 million to keep the Seahawks in 1997, and the Vikings recently got $498 million for a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

This will be the NFL’s first relocation since 1997, and let’s face it, they don’t want two teams in LA. If the NFL has its way, this move will bring out new stadiums for three more of the teams.