The death of Kobe Bryant brought a nation to its knees Sunday, as the 41-year-old was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was among the victims.
On Monday, Damon Amendolara reflected at length on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show about Bryant’s life, career, and untimely death.
“I never considered myself a huge Kobe fan necessarily,” Amendolara said. “Of course I respected his career, his greatness, but it wasn’t like Kobe was my favorite player ever and I grew up watching him. But there was something about this [tragedy], of course, because of his age and the accident, the way that it happened, that it just felt totally surreal. And I don’t know about you, but I still feel like this is surreal.”
Bryant played in the NBA for 20 seasons. He was an 18-time All-Star, a five-time NBA champion and a two-time Finals MVP.
And now he’s gone.
“Kobe personified an invincibility,” Amendolara said. “A lot of guys win NBA Finals, a lot of guys win Finals MVPs, a lot of guys win rings, a lot of guys go to the Hall of Fame. Kobe is a singular entity from a basketball-player standpoint because of his raging competitiveness – raging fire and competitiveness. That, in and of itself, defined him. He was not OK with anything less than his absolute, maniacal best. That drove him to accomplishments that very few ever get to, even though others have. But we saw that in him.”
NBA fans saw that in Michael Jordan, too. When Bryan't career began, perhaps he was in MJ's shadow. By the time it ended, however, he was his own man.
“It was so obvious,” Amendolara said of Bryant’s competitiveness. “He wore it on his sleeve. There was no internal motivation that he did not outwardly show. It was a very transparent, very public, fire . . . that he publicly poured out onto the floor – and into the face of teammates and into the face of coaches and into the face of opponents. And we could see it. It was so obvious, it was so evident, and he never apologized for that. And in retrospect, all the times he was really hard on teammates and hard on coaches and hard on opponents is now so admirable, because we got to see him pursue something that was so unbelievably important to him that you couldn’t help but admire that.”