THREAD: Remembering Kobe and Gigi Bryant

Hi all. Quick note before we start today. If you’re going to be at the USA Basketball/UConn game tonight, try to get there a little early. I’ll be hanging out outside section 106 from about 6:30-6:45. Nothing formal, just would be fun to see a few friendly faces. Please swing by and say hi if you have a chance!

I can’t think of anything other than the death of Kobe and Gigi Bryant and the seven other victims of Sunday’s tragic helicopter crash in Los Angeles, and it didn’t seem right to write about anything else today.

But my head and heart are still spinning, so instead of trying to write something to sum up my feelings, I thought I’d create a space where we can talk together, and hold up many complicated feelings at once.

I have been very open — including in this newsletter, just last week — how I feel about Kobe’s legacy. I revisited his rape case in 2016 for an article that many have been passing around the past 24 hours. Because of that, my DMs have been flooded with grieving survivors of all genders and races and ages the past 20 hours, who feel forgotten and confused and devastated and angry, all at once. That is real.

Its also real, though, how much he meant to the women’s basketball community, a community I have been immersed in as a journalist for a few years now. His support of women’s basketball — and women’s soccer and women’s tennis, and I’m sure other women’s sports — meant so, so much to the athletes and the coaches. His passion for women’s sports was genuine; he followed them closely and gave them a level of support that they rarely receive from icons in men’s sports. He was especially generous with his time and talents to young, black female athletes. That matters.

(Credit: Getty Images)

His love and pride for his daughters, especially Gigi, who was always by his side at basketball games, was heartwarming and inspiring. It’s unimaginable that she is gone, too, and that she doesn’t get to follow her dreams of playing for UConn and becoming a WNBA star and carrying on her father’s legacy.

Twitter isn’t a great place for nuanced conversations. I want to open up this thread for Power Plays readers to come and share whatever it is they are feeling. Maybe you want to talk about your favorite on-court memory of Kobe, or what his support of women’s basketball meant to you. Maybe you want to talk about how this has made you re-think your relationship with your father, or you’re a survivor who has been triggered by the hero-worship, by media referring to a sexual assault as “that Colorado thing.”

It’s all welcome here. What is not welcome, however, is policing each other’s feelings. Grief is complicated. Legacies are complicated. Larger-than-life figures like Kobe mean different things to different people, to different communities. And it’s understandable to be shaken when someone who seemed invincible, who was so present and active in our collective culture, dies so unexpectedly and so tragically, with his 13-year-old daughter and other families by his side.

I’m going to be here for most of the day, in and out. I’ll be moderating comments if they get nasty towards one another. But I hopefully we can support each other on this awful day.