Happy Birthday Kobe Bryant, my favorite NBA player slash Bounty Hunter slash cold blooded Assassin!
When Kobe first visited Manila in 1998 as a promising NBA sophomore, my brother and I went to Festival Mall in Alabang where Kobe was supposed to make an appearance at the Adidas store (he was still endorsing "the brand with the 3 stripes" back then). I was collecting NBA cards then and had a solid batch of Kobe Bryant rookie cards waiting to be signed by the newest rising star of the LA Lakers. Alas, a change in schedule led to the cancellation of Kobe's Festival mall appearance, and together with a sizable number of fans, we went home disappointed and frustrated.
Fast forward 9 years later. Fresh from winning his 4th Championship with the Lakers, Kobe visited Manila again in September 2007. Once more, I missed the opportunity of seeing the Black Mamba in person. It was already too late when I read the news of Kobe's visit, and I also had work that day.
When I learned that Manila would once again be a stop in KB24's Nike Take Every Advantage Tour, I made sure that I would not strike out on the chance of seeing the planet's best basketbal player in the flesh. Filing a vacation leave on July 13, 2011, I headed over to the Nike Fort in Bonifacio High Street. I didn't mind standing 4 hours under the noon heat just to get a good vantage point of the stage where Kobe was supposed to appear.
Much to my dismay however, a cameraman positioned himself strategically in front of the stage where I was standing, partially obstructing my view. But I would not be denied. I didn't wait 13 years just to be frustrated by an ill placed piece of equipment.
When the moment finally arrived, I jostled to get a decent enough of a view. And there was my reward... The Black Mamba right before me very eyes!