I’ve never really been able to place my finger on why — but, it seems to me people get disturbed by the idea of imitation. Society will call you out!! Especially, if you’re in the public eye as “copying” someone else; the ability to imitate exactly what someone else can do kind of means that you are able to do it just as well, right? Well, maybe not in every case but who wouldn’t want that for themselves — everybody wants to be good at something.
There is one case though that makes a darn good argument for the art of imitation. I remember when Kobe Bryant first entered the league, just right around the time Jordan had come back after retiring the first time. Kobe was this fresh 17 year old talent out of Lower Merion high school in Ardmore, Pennsylvania right outside Philadelphia. Man was he confident — he was pretty much everything he was expected to be drafted straight out of high school in the 1996 NBA draft. Kobe was explosive, he could jump, finish at the bucket and could shoot very well — he had all the intangibles that made a player great. But, even I as a young kid at the ages of 11 and 12, could see something in his game. In hind sight I have more of an understanding as to why he may have been so good.
There will never be a conversation concerning the “greatest of all time” as far as basketball is concerned where Michael Jordan could ever be topped. When Jordan entered the league he set a standard that in my eyes is unattainable for most. Not only for his capabilities on the court but his legacy in the world of shoes, fashion and design. That combination is a force that maybe shouldn’t play a role in the “greatest of all time” conversation, but it does. His legacy is great and will continue on because today’s generation may not know, or have already forgotten what he’s done on the basketball court — but I can betcha they know his products.
Many basketball fans just younger than myself who may not have witnessed Jordan as much as I, have already passed the crown to Kobe and LeBron; it is not my call to say whether or not that is legitimate. As a fan of the game — as a witness to all the greats of today — my opinion is, nah, Jordan is still the greatest!!!
Growing up, Kobe was a great admirer of Michael Jordan himself; he even went as far as to say he idolized “his airness”. Bryant in a CBS interview once stated that words couldn’t do justice to the influence Jordan had on him. Living in Italy Kobe said that all he had to study from was video tape footage of the games that he would receive. At one time he said he would study everybody he could, but then realized that he probably wouldn’t ever grow to be 6’9”, so “I started studying Michael exclusively.” Kobe goes on to say, “And then when I came to the league and was matching up against him, what I found is that he was extremely open to having a mentor relationship and giving me a great amount of advice and an amazing amount of detail, strategies, workout regimen and things like that.”
Kobe in a sense, not entirely as he was and is his own man; but in many ways was a product of Michael Jordan because of his love and admiration for him. His exclusive study of Michael along with many hours of working out in the gym allowed him to develop moves that in the beginning were not entirely his own. If one is able to duplicate another’s actions they are then able to make those actions their own. It is not being a “copy cat” in the negative use of the term — it’s simply the art of imitation!! That art form allows you to take what you’ve seen and uniquely put your own touch on it. It is such a simple concept, and one that people have used for many years to establish their own greatness in this world.
Over the course of twenty years Kobe made his greatness in the city of Los Angeles, across the nation and even the world with his ability to play basketball. He used a love that he had first for the game, then for a man he could follow and learn from to gain much success. For those of you reading — will you allow yourself to imitate? There could be great things inside of you waiting to blossom from a seed planted by someone you admire.
“A jump shooter is always in the game”
J.C. Barnett III