Is Kobe the right person to give you life lessons?

A couple of days ago, former-basketball star (but not only) Kobe Bryant died tragically in a heli crash.

I’m not a fan of that sport, nor do I have any particular reason to remember Bryant fondly, except for the fact that he spoke an amazingly good Italian (he lived in the country during his childhood). I did like the idea of him, but for no particular reason.

In the last two days, all possible online platforms were flooded by messages remembering him (which I understand), “thoughts and prayers” (which I don’t and, quite frankly, I tend to judge internally a little bit) , and even quotes from Kobe. One stuck in my head: a beautiful pic of him, full figure, Lakers colours, beautiful as a marble statue from ancient Greece. A writing:

I don’t want to be the new MJ. I want to be Kobe.*


*or something like that

Oh. OK. Wow that’s so deep, I’m sure no other athlete ever thought of it before. It’s got to be Professional Athletes 101, really. The person who shared this is a LinkedIn connection of mine, and shared a series of such quotes from KB in the same format. Aesthetically beautiful but quite, how can I put it…trivial? Trite? Predictable? Now, keep this in mind: I don’t mean to say KB was an idiot, not at all. What I think is KB was a basketball player.

I mean, to take life lessons from a basketball player, the guy’s gotta be something special. I take life lessons from smart men, and basketball lessons from basketball players, is all. What is the reason why people would even consider taking sport stars as points of reference in their life, besides learning how to bicycle kick a football, or glass-breaking dunks? For the same reason, I cannot for the life of me understand the success of sport masters autobiographic books. Now that I think about it, I did read a very good one: Andre Agassi’s. But all the rest I saw around were…I mean, they were not epiphanic sources of wisdom, let’s put it this way.

I think we tend to create an image of every person we meet, that stems from the automatic impression we create of them in our brains, normally in the first few seconds. If we find a person attractive, we will give them more credibility. Don’t say you don’t, cause we all do. I believe this, because I reckon my brain does the same: when I was a kid, football legend Pelé was my absolute idol. I thought, for no reason, he was a god among humans. Then I’ve heard him speak, and my BS-meter went through the roof. I don’t even remember the topic, I just remember me thinking “this cannot be someone to teach me how to live”. Before that interview, he was just that, for no good reason. Same happened the first time I read a news piece about Pantera’s Phil Anselmo’s personal ideas. Still like their music, but thanks no thanks as a life inspiration ewww. I guess we need to cling on to someone or something, an idea or a person to lead us? That’s got to be normal, I see it every day. Thinking about it, it’s the very same thing that happens when you cease being a child: you learn your parents are just people, and not Albert Einstein. Well actually, also Einstein might have been an asshole as well, what do you know?

So at the end of the day I think that it is always wrong to idealise (idolise) people: your favourite actor might be a jerk, which does not stop them from being an amazing actor, and should not stop you from liking them as an actor. But getting into Scientology because you like Cruise, that’s just going full stupid. By the way, I reckon this must have had a pretty strong influence on the development of my relationship with religion. Yeah it’s all on you, Pelé!

Soundtrack: Wanderlost by Dizzy Mystics