REDEMPTION (KOBE PART II)
While traveling in Boise the Thursday and Friday after Kobe went off for 60 points in his final game, I had a revelation. For the past few weeks leading up to that point I’ve been reading the books of Samuel in the Bible, which introduces us to a well known character to Christians and non-Christians alike…King David of Israel. These two iconic characters had been on my mind during my trip and it felt like a Kobe/David mashup from the movie series Pitch Perfect (a mashup is when an acappella group sings two songs with a similar melody and beat and blend them together – see an example here).
I started thinking about both of their journeys and I was taken back by all they had in common:
Both where thrust onto the scene at an early age
Kobe: Drafted as a 17 year old out of high school. A year later was selected as the youngest NBA All-Star of all-time.
David: As a young boy, David receives instant fame and glory by defeating the Philistine giant Goliath.
Both were the “Heir Apparent”
Kobe: Followed the greatest of all-time, His Airness Himself, Michael Jordan. Many believed upon Jordan’s retirement, Kobe was the face of the NBA and the next “king.”
David: Succeeded Saul as the second king of Israel.
Both were fearless warriors and soldiers at their core
Kobe: Considered one of the fiercest competitors in the history of all professional sports. Kobe’s insane pain tolerance and drive pushed him to play a grueling high number of minutes and through painful injuries throughout his career. His drive to conquer the NBA and be the best helped land him multiple titles, as well as league and Laker franchise records.
David: King David engaged in many battles and was a skilled and brave warrior. “Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16) As first general and then king over Judah, David helped Israel grow from a small tribe, into a strong nation through conquering the Philistines and other tribes.
The number 5
Kobe: Won 5 NBA Championships.
David: Picked 5 smooth stones before his battle with Goliath.
Kobe: Kobe’s father, Joseph “Jellybean” Bryant was drafted in the first round of the 1975 draft and played 16 professional seasons of basketball (8 in the NBA and 8 in Europe).
David: Samuel went to Bethlehem intending to appoint Saul’s successor from among the son’s of Jesse. “Rise and anoint him, this is the one” (1 Samuel 16:12).
Both were exiled before their reign
Kobe: Due to his father taking his talents from the NBA to pursue opportunities overseas, Kobe spent 8 years in Italy as a child and teen, isolated from family and friends back home.
David: As commander of Saul’s army, David became increasingly successful and popular. Saul saw David as a threat and repeatedly plotted his death. Saul’s son Jonathan warns David, who “fled into the wilderness” and was exiled as a fugitive for some time.
Kobe: Kobe’s charm, charisma, and looks help land him several lucrative endorsements including Adidas, Nike, Lenevo, Spalding, and Coca-Cola.
David: The Bible describes David as “ruddy” (of a person’s face – a healthy red color) who had beautiful eyes and was handsome. The original KD, (King David) would have been a lock for endorsing the latest and greatest ancient sandal.
Kobe: This remains to be seen, but all roads point to Steph Curry, who’s 2016 performance topped his magical run to an NBA title and MVP in 2015. Steph is unlike any other superstar before him. His record breaking 2016 season, likable image, unique shooting and play-making skills, may prove as a recipe for the greatest player in his era…only time will tell. Curry reminds me of a young King Solomon (before he was corrupted), wise beyond his years, uniquely gifted, and very powerful.
David: David’s son King Solomon was great in wisdom, wealth, and power. Israel enjoyed 40 years of prosperity under Solomon’s reign before he fell away from God and lived a life of sin (let’s hope Steph doesn’t follow suit…I trust he won’t!).
The Fall (Adultery)
Kobe: During the summer of 2003 Kobe admitted to an adulterous sexual encounter with a 19-year old hotel employee in Eagle, Colorado. The woman charged Kobe with sexual assault, which was later dropped, but a civil suit was later filed and settled out of court. Aside from causing severe strain to his marriage, Kobe’s squeaky clean image was severely damaged and he lost most of his endorsement deals.
David: Not only did David commit adultery with Bathsheba, but because of his shame, he sent her husband Uriah to the front lines of battle to be killed.
The Rise (Legacy)
Both will be remembered as one of the greatest of all time. Both anointed at an early age and true heroes to their adorning followers. Were they flawed? Yes, but their passion, skill, strength and bravery helped etch their name as legends and giants of their time.
What stood out to me wasn’t their fierceness in battle or their accomplishments, but the power of repentance.
Both men expressed extreme remorse over their transgressions and sought forgiveness. We are not defined by our sin, our failure, or our mishaps. We all have fallen short in one way or another. In these times, are we able to recognize our wrong, face it without hiding or running away from it; feel genuine remorse, ask for forgiveness with a sincere heart; and finally – learn from it and move on in a positive way? Its not the FALL that counts, its getting back up, asking for forgiveness with a sincere and true soul, and becoming stronger and more pure of heart than before that matters most (the RISE). It takes real courage to come back, humble yourself, and own your mistake(s).
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me of my sin…wash me, and I will be whiter that snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice….Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.”
(To view all of Psalm 51, click here)
If you feel like you have been wearing a Scarlet Letter, its time to break out the OxiClean. Repent. Ask for forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Start anew. You can do it!…today is the day.
Kobe changed his number from 8 to 24 to represent a changed man and a fresh start. If you are dealing with baggage of a failure or mistake, what is one thing you can change? Like Rachel Platten sings in her anthem of rebirth, Fight Song,
“Like how a single word, can make a heart open.
I might only have one match, but I can start an explosion.”