I recently stumbled upon an old article written by the great Jim Murray. It was a piece about a 19-year-old Kobe Bryant, the baby faced phenom fresh off his first All-Star appearance. A kid just waiting to take the NBA by storm. Reading each of Jim Murray’s superbly crafted sentences was like taking a trip in Doc Brown’s time machine. He describes a young Kobe full of such vigor and life that those who met him were awestruck by his presence. He paints a picture of a youthful apprentice with the world at his fingertips, the newest member of hoops royalty eager to begin his reign atop the NBA.
I remember that Kobe.
I miss that Kobe.
Where did that Kobe go?
I sent the article to a friend who helped put things into perspective. He made the analogy that we begin each new phase of our lives as a blank canvas. At first our potential for beauty is endless, but along the way we make choices and confront situations that will define our painting. How we handle those encounters will make up the canvas of our lives, and ultimately only we can control how our “masterpiece” is received.
Along the way Kobe made decisions and chose to interact with others in ways that have made his self portrait glaring, dark and, some would say, ugly.
One foolish decision in Colorado instantly shattered the image he worked so hard to cultivate. To make matters worse, it didn’t end there. From June 2003 to October 2005, one Kobe mishap after another slowly tore down the curtain he hid behind for so long. When the veil finally fell and an exposed Kobe stood atop the broken pieces of his public persona, he had a decision to make.
He could try and put the pieces back together, or he could simply start over.
Needless to say, Kobe’s PR machine went to work trying to repair his once squeaky clean public reputation. Unfortunately, this error in judgment ignored one key fact that can’t be overlooked.
That being, we aren’t that stupid.