With Kobe Bryant announcing his retirement today, it’s safe to say thousands of American basketball fans will now do their best to see the phenomenal Laker play at least one final time before his career concludes come season’s end.
This, I understand. We have sports greats, and we have sports legends. And then, at the very top, we have all-time great legends. Which is Jordan, which is Gretzky, which is Mantle and DiMaggio and Jeter and Griffey, Jr. and Nolan Ryan.
Which is also Kobe.
But here’s the thing: I’m not sure these experiences wind up being as memorable as one might think. Or, perhaps, it’s just me. For example, I’m pretty sure I covered a game when Michael Jordan was a Chicago Bull. I mean, I might have. It seems like it occurred. But perhaps I just saw it on TV. Truly, I can’t recall with 100-percent certainty. Why? Because, well, it just wasn’t that big of a deal. You see a dude live, you see him on your enormous screen—not all that big a difference (save for price and food selection). And, furthermore, they’re just people doing people things. Balls, hoops, bases, sticks. Cool, fun, funky. But all-time, all-time, all-time memorable? No.
For me, trips are memorable. The pasta in Italy, the streets of Barcelona, the cheese and chocolate in Paris, the crisp air of Santiago. I once had a massage in Guatemala where a chunky woman rubbed stones up and down my back, then silently left. That was memorable. It’s all about Interactive experiences. Falling from a plane. Paddling through rapids. Slow dancing in a drunken haze. On and on.
But watching an athlete? For me—not especially. Fun? Sure. Cool? Definitely.
But a bucket list type of thing?