Kobe Bryant, the dominating and skillful shooting guard with the Los Angeles Lakers-the richest NBA franchise, has finally called admitted, through a poem to the game of basketball, posted on the Players Tribune; that this season will be his last. After 20 years, thousands of points, thousands of miles, thousands of assists, 5 trophies, 4 finals MVP, one regular season MVP and a host of other awards.
I am a Boston Celtics fan and as such, granted the between Lakers and Celtics, too many clutch winning shots he made while playing at the TD garden. Kobe be the man, Kobe Always dominated the paint. Even with a defensive minded-Doc Rivers styled and Kevin Garnett led Celtics defense, on most nights, had no answer to Bryant. When he got hot, he was hot.
Admittedly, Kobe Bryant is the bridge that connected the post-Michael Jordan era, to today’s-over-achieving players; Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and others. What the game of basketball will miss, above all, is the work ethic that Bryant put in his game.
Kobe Bryant’s resolve, determination and persistence is unrivaled in the last decade, and can, arguably, compare to what Jordan gave the game. Two incidences that demonstrate this about the two players come to mind. You may recall in 1997 Michael Jordan playing through flu-like symptoms, against the Utah Jazz (John Stockton and Karl Marlone). Throughout the game, Jordan was struggling to keep up. He was dehydrated-and while his stomach was ravaged by the flu, he led the Bulls to a great comeback victory. In the same vein of a never-say-die attitude, Bryant, last season, while playing against the Memphis Grizzles, twisted his ankle. It was painful. After examination, he could no longer continue playing. As basketball rules stipulate, if an injured player is unable to return to the court to make any resultant free throws, the opposing side selects any player from the bench to attempt the free throws. Kobe would have none of that. From the locker room he emerged, limping and in pain. The crowd at Staples Center held their breath, others cried. But Kobe, just like his name suggests-the tortoise, walked steadily but surely to the court. He made his 2 free throws and then walked back to the locker room-his night was done, but the message was clear-endurance.
That’s Kobe Bryant, a basketball great in Los Angeles. They call him the black Mumba! But exit the Mumba, enter Stephen Kibinda, Baricho FC’s franchise player. Nicknamed ‘Adinesi,’ which means hardness, Kibinda is not your regular stopper! He was nicknamed Adinesi by players who had the luxury of trying to go through him at the heart of the team’s defense. He was a rock, as hard and impenetrable, as a rock.
If Baricho fc is Kirinyaga’s submarine, then Adinesi is its periscope-his head is always surveying the field. He can read the game well than any coach. His ability to inspire the team, laced in philosophies and practicalities are some of the things that make Adinesi stand out, to me, as the world’s greatest. For example, in a local derby against Kiandangae Kings, Baricho trailed 0-3 at halftime. Baricho fans are the impatient kind and some, on seeing the score line started heading towards the exits. As the players trooped to sit under a Mugumo tree for the much needed shade, some, with their heads dropping in shame, Adinesi was not the player to be intimidated by the score line:
“Guys, we are in hell now. And we must crawl out. We are all great players, individually. But we need to rally as a team. Kings are not playing that well, but they are playing as a team. We are getting punished on our mistakes. We just need to score one goal. Just one. And we shall be back in it. We are playing a soft game. We are men. Let us show it. We need to make some tactical switch as well. Thenji will move from number 6 to number 8 so that he can break the dominance of Taisei. Makenji will switch from number 8 and play number 11 so that we can utilize your pace on the flank. Sambo will switch from number 11 to number 9 so that all the crosses that will be dropping in the box, he can tap them in……..”
At the end of the game, Baricho had 6 goals to Kings’ 4. It was a thrilling match. But what stood out, and in many other games that followed, was Adinesi’s vision, focus and perseverance.
Above all, what stands out about Adinesi is that he will never retire. In Baricho, players do not retire. They keep grinding it!
Hail to one of my heroes, Baricho’s finest and Kirinyaga’s great Stephen Kibinda alias Adinesi!