Cebuano fans honor Mamba

KOBE Bryant fans and memorabilia collectors in Cebu paid tribute to the basketball legend on Thursday night, Jan. 30, 2020, at the First 5 Sports Lounge & Café in Bonifacio District, Panagdait.

The tribute was organized by the owners of the First 5 Sports Lounge to answer the clamor of their regular patrons, who wanted to be with their fellow Bryant fans and basketball enthusiasts.

The night was all about Bryant as fans brought with them their collectible items like cards, shoes, signed jerseys, signed shoes, among others. The most expensive was the Kobe Bryant Eminence cards.

Card company Kobe Bryant Eminence released only 13 cards that showed a shoe of Kobe Bryant embedded with one ounce of gold bar and signed by the Black Mamba with gold ink. Of the 13 cards in the world, seven are owned by a Cebuano collector.

The five-time NBA champion who spent all his 20-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 27, 2020 (PH time). He was 41 years old. Bryant’s daughter, Gianne, 13, was also killed. Nine people died in that tragic accident.

”When Kobe died, you don’t have to be a Kobe fan to feel sad, you just need to be a human to feel sad. Given the fact that he died with his daughter and all people on board of that helicopter,” said one of the bar owners Dr. Bimbo Tequillo.

It was a non-profit event as the First 5 Sports Lounge paid for the bill of the fans who came in.

“We decided we don’t want to make a profit for someone’s misfortune and tragedy. I can say that the bar paid for the bill of half of the people here. Only the walk-ins ra ang ni pay but those who contacted us early, it’s all free,” he said.

Fans also shared their stories on how they followed Bryant’s decorated career. Bryant was picked 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 Rookie Draft, but he was traded by Charlotte to Los Angeles for Vlade Divac.

“Kobe gave everything despite a lull after they lost to the Detroit Pistons in 2004 NBA Finals. He stayed with the Lakers until they won again in the 2009 and 2010 seasons,” said Christian Motong, who named his youngest kid Kobe.

“Even when he got injured, he showed determination. He shot two free throws after he ruptured his Achilles. Mamba mentality is within him,” he added. (RSC)