Not too long ago, Kendrick Lamar took center stage in a loud Staples Center in Los Angeles and gave a performance that will be remembered for a long time, but there’s one man who has been doing that on a regular basis for the past 20 years: NBA legend Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Laker is retiring at the end of this season and his last game will go down in that building on Wednesday.
Before that, though, Lamar collaborated with ESPN for a tribute video titled Kobe Bryant: Fade To Black. In the video, Lamar performs a poem (written by Scoop Jackson) about Kobe’s career and final days, with “untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016” playing in the background. The piece reminisces about Kobe’s career highlights and lauds the influence he has had over the city he played for over the past 20 seasons.
Watch the video and read the text of the poem below.
What can I say? I mean, really? What can we say? Day by day, season by season, 20 to be exact. Growing up watching him paint murals, using this building as his first studio, using L.A. as his canvas, restoring crowns back to where they belong, under royal banners. Purple and gold, the color of royalty. My one-man L.A. king: Kobe. Never meaning less could never mean less, and that’s what he means at this moment. All season has been his goodbye. Him to us, us to him, to the whole world.
Still got magic, but he made it magical. From Compton to Crenshaw, Jack to Jeannie, we were all witnesses, to all things that was him. I mean, we share with him the world. Soon enough, he became our identity. If you wasn’t born or raised here, or never lived here, you’ll probably never understand. I’m going to make sure you do. I’m talking about the 81 points, I’m talking about the afro, I’m talking about the alley-oop to Shaq, the off-glass buzzer beater over D-Wade, the Game 4 overtime takeover in the Finals: Kobe. I’m talking about the posterizing of Steve Nash, I’m talking about Dwight Howard’s rookie year when he got baptized. You remember that. Kobe bodied him. [laughs] The helicopter, the five parades, Kobe.
The mashed-up gamut of emotions with you and with ourselves is so deep, I don’t think nobody can break that bond. So I ask, how do empires last when there’s no longer an emperor? I mean, we got you, but at the same time, we got you. I’m talking about your blood, your sweat, your tears, even your DNA, is placed in these L.A. concretes, man. And nothing will ever replace that or erase that. Forever great in our hearts. So with that being said, know that it’s never goodbye, simply respect due. My dude, forever, Kobe.