In Remembrance

NBA Legends Kobe Bryant and Jerry West

Andy Dolich -- 2015


By Andy Dolich

On Saturday evening January 25 I was at Solano College watching some of America's finest high school basketball players exhibiting their skills at the "Crush In the Valley Basketball Showcase." Their athletic abilities might take some to a college scholarship and even propel a very select few to the fantasy of a pro career.
I can only imagine what many of these young men, their coaches, friends and families experienced the next morning trying to process the gut-punching news of the helicopter crash in Calabasas that took one of sports most competitive athletes, his daughter, and seven other precious lives in horrific fashion. For some this was the first and most significant public death in their lives.

In just a few weeks the NBA has lost two giants, former Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant. Stern helped create the global business map of basketball but it was the Black Mamba's style, skill and competitive DNA that resonated with fans from Beijing to Buenos Aires.

Jerry West and I worked together in Memphis with the Grizzlies from 2002 to 2007. If there is an NBA Most Competitive All-Star team Jerry West would be selected as a starter by anyone who knows the game. West's 20/20 vision on what makes youthful abilities turn into greatness is always at work. He saw that in a young player from Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia.

Millions of basketball fans watched Kobe grow up with a relentless pursuit of excellence which rubbed some raw. Many of those close to him were impressed on how the Mamba was maturing. He was figuring out what he could do away from the court, which was his canvas.

Like all mortals he had missteps which matured into a fierce commitment to his family. Girls and boys who love basketball have seen how the game brings people of all backgrounds together. In an age of increasing divides, Kobe Bryant's memory should be celebrated in his message, "We are more than what we do."

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Andy Dolich has over five decades of leadership in the sports industry, including executive positions in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, pro soccer and lacrosse. Presently Dolich is COO of the Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL) and teaches sports business at Stanford's School of Continuing Studies. Dolich is also co-author of the new book: