Entry #2006
11:45 PM - January 26th, 2020
Will I ever sleep again? Jesus. I have been crying on and off all day. I fell asleep at 8pm out of emotional exahaustion and just woke up again and have to write to get back to sleep. I've had so much to say but I almost feel like it's not my place. I shouldn't be weeping about someone I only briefly met once and it feels like my reaction is somehow overdramatic. If I have personal crisis moments, The Journey is my safe space to write and give my feelings... but the death of a celebrity almost feels like you're trying to ride a sympathy wave and put the attention on you. I've written of celebrity deaths before of course. John Ritter and George Carlin hit me particularly hard. Robin Williams truly knocked me out because I've dealt with suicidal periods within these 20 years and the idea of him never getting over his demons (this was before we knew of his disease) scared the shit out of me. But I can honestly say no death of a famous figure has hit me this, freaking, hard. I feel like something was stolen from me and I need to continue to read the reports so I can even process it. To anyone wondering why, it's long and complicated, but I'll start from the beginning.
As many know, I was a massive MJ fan and will be releasing a documentary about meeting him later this year. However, unlike most fans nowadays: I loved greatness. I didn't play the GOAT game. I didn't hate on other players. When Kobe came along as the heir apparent I adored him. I cheered him on. He had that work ethic crazinees MJ had and I loved everything about him. When I moved to LA in 2000 I was thrilled to finally live in an NBA city and was a die-hard Kobe/Shaq fan. When the split happened, of course I sided with Kobe because he was such a hard-working zealot for the game and I saw Shaq as simply not as serious. I hate that. It doesn't matter how tiny the task in life, I work at it like Kobe. Like Jordan. I push myself beyond most everyone I know. Watching Shaq come in out-of-shape pissed me the fuck off like I knew it pissed Kobe off. I have since lightened up on Shaq because he's hard not to love, but as a teammate he would've driven me nuts. You notice I often work alone, not out of needing to control things as much as I rarely find people who can keep up. Sounds arrogant, I guess, but I'm 44 so I don't care anymore how it sounds. LOL. I produce a lot of shit and it's because I don't wait for others to accomplish my goals.
The rape allegation in '03 broke my heart. The more information I got however, the more things seemed a bit "off". Her bragging to friends about their encounter 3 days before the assault charges (people seem to leave that out) really upset me and I was ready to watch that trial to see everything come to light. Then she sued him in civil court BEFORE the criminal trial and it fucked their entire case so badly they had to drop all the charges. WHAT? I was so insanely disappointed he settled. I get it, he cheated on his wife and putting his family through that civil trial (which was for $75,000? No wonder the criminal prosecuters had to drop the charges!) would have been devastating. But I absolutely hate that there's this he said/she said thing forever. In nearly every public case I have believed the woman because there's very little to gain from making false statements, but her story always seemed off and looking at a quarter century now of Kobe's life? It's very hard for me to believe that man was a rapist yet was only accused one-time. I don't know of any sexual assaulters that did it ONCE. The #metoo movement would've rocked him otherwise. It defies belief that a man with that much money and power just randomly raped one person and never did it before or after. You're all welcome to hate me for that sentence but it did indeed remind me of an episode in my own life where I was wrongly accused of "forcing" someone and it was 100% consensual. I think my next entry is going to need to be about that event and why I actually have defended the girl I went to high school for the pressure she felt to make excuses for her own sexuality. Patriarchy in Catholic Schools is INTENSE. Making girls feel guilty for being sexual might as well be part of their holy trinity. I'm obviously not thrilled I was lied about, but I understand and strangely have maintained a friendship with her since.
ANYWAY, I bring that up because it's one of the spokes of the Kobe wheel for how he is entrenched in my life. Then he scores 81 and I had to admit something I really wasn't ready to admit:
Jordan said it himself: there will be someone better than me. Kobe built on what Jordan showed to everyone and he, yes, did it just a bit better. To the die-hard MJ fans out there: don't act like Jordan didn't try to score 100 several times. MJ's 55 in his return to the garden in '95 was hailed as a "classic" and Kobe scored 55 in one, fucking, half. His team down by 18 he just brings them back and cannot be stopped. To give you some comparison, MJ needed overtime to score his personal best of 69. MJ never had a night like Kobe and although comparisons are stupid, I had to tip my hat to Kobe and say he's the best scorer I've ever seen.
Of course he won two more titles and I meanwhile went from driven performer to family man and a sudden "second life" building GolfKon, the Delorean and it lead me to a Starbucks in Newport Beach for a shoot early in the morning. And wouldn't you know...

And this is where the story starts to get more personal. At this point "Hats & Minigolf" (an interview show I was doing in my backyard) was, remarkably, attracting actual celebrities to show up. There was something about the insanity of one man building this in his backyard that worked really well in an opening email. Celebrities are hounded about interviews constantly but nearly everyone who has seen my reel goes "ok, that's pretty awesome, I'm interested." It was in that light, as I said in the entry, I couldn't really fan-boy with Kobe. I would burn a bridge if I tried to hit him up for an interview at a fucking Starbucks. That's not how you do that. So I decided to plant a seed:

I walk up to him about to grab his drink.
He looks.
"Did you see the Delorean Time Machine out there?"
"I did"
"That's mine. I just wanted to tell you that, smile and shake my head knowingly."
He does the Kobe smile and chuckles.
For whatever reason, I realized that the only thing I could really compare to all he represents in those short few seconds? Was that car. I mean he has to understand the audacity of the situation. He knew there was a 10 year old kid inside me just wanting to impress him. It's like the moment Butthead tells the Flight Attendant he has a beer in their movie. "Uhm, do you think this is awesome? Because, I really want you to think this is awesome."
Thankfully he did. In fact as he walks out, he says just that:
"Wow, that's really awesome man. Nice job"
He wisely used the attention of the car to allow him to zip away unnoticed to his SUV. I will make every effort to contact his agent/publicist and see if I can at least get a note to him about "Hats & Minigolf". I mean, he's injured. He has a little downtime... you never know. But he has to respect that I didn't pull the normal fan shit.



I never made "every effort" like I should have because this was March 2015 and my life would be upended by the Delorean adventures which would then lead to Fastest Delorean and the interview show would take a backseat. To say not grabbing that opportunity is stabbing my heart at the moment is to say the least... but we're still not to what connected me so deeply to him.

He announces his retirement and does so in such a compassionate, intelligent, self-aware, and Zen-like way... it was clear that he was just starting a journey. "Dear Basketball" (which ended up getting him a freaking Academy Award) showed he was a storyteller. I am storyteller. His intelligence and self-awareness felt like he and I were far more alike than different. This short white-dude and a towering basketball legend somehow had the same DNA? It sounds insane, but I knew I wanted to talk to him about JUST THAT. Commonalities. I would often talk to myself knowing that interview was going to happen. But I had some things to attend to. There was time.
Then of course he ends it... like that? 60? Another entry...
Then his life after basketball? He was a dad. His relationship with Gianna and the attention he was bringing onto women's basketball was incredible. You knew she was going to play college ball and just maybe she would be what finally made people pay close attention to the WNBA. That mixed with his sudden embrace of storytelling? We were starting to have commonalities that were overwhelming. Our two main focuses were the same. Not comparing success of course, that's not the point of commonalities. The point is how your brain works. The obsessive caring about working hard, family, crafting stories in your 40s... suddenly you don't know who I'm talking about. I had cemented a memory with him at Starbucks with the Delorean that I knew he would remember when I did finally approach him about an interview. This was going to happen.
And then today happened.
Ya know what I thought about most in the hour before I knew Kobe was gone and Gianna wasn't? How awful it's going to be for that poor girl to have to answer for him in the coming years. She's only 1 and they had just trademarked "Mambacita" for her. Now she's gonna have to answer these questions about her dad without his support? I was so heartbroken for her. And then the 2x4 to my heart as I left the house before my family could hear me weeping. Oh the pain is so acute right now. It feels crazy to say this but it may be the most difficult death I've experienced aside from my own grandmothers.

Alright, I need to get to sleep, but there will obviously be far more on this because it's wrecking me.