How time flies when the high flyers you grew up with are now grounded and retiring.
Watching Kobe’s end of the season injury and thinking it may be the last time I ever see him in a NBA game almost brought a tear to my face that now has wrinkles and a grey hair here and there that wasn’t present when Kobe was wearing #8, rapping and feuding with Shaq.
Watching Jason Kidd retire a couple of days ago brought back memories of my Dad taking me to sportscard conventions (which were very popular in malls and outlets in the early to mid 90s) and buying packs of Fleer, Topps, Upper Deck, Hoops, Classic and Skybox (Panini now owns the entire hoop market and back then were just known for making mini stickers) hoping to pull rookie cards of Glen Robinson, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd and my personal favorite Eddie Jones.
A couple years after ripping open those packs for Kidd rookie cards, I graduated high school and enrolled at a University while a high school graduate named Kevin Garnett was skipping the University route to become the first straight from high school player since one of my favorite players to hang out with, Darryl Dawkins, did 20 years earlier.
While following KG’s rookie season and watching Kidd and the three J’s put up 30+ three pointers a game, I saw footage of Kobe Bryant for the 1st time. It was a dunk contest where a cocky Kobe beat out dunk phenom Lester Earl by showing off his east bay funk dunk. A year later, I’m ripping open packs of cards trying to get Kobe Bryant rookie cards to put in my collection of other great young guns like Iverson, McDyess, Stackhouse, Marbury, Kidd and of course KG.
15 years later, I’m looking at this old cover of Inside Stuff about the Top 25 Best Players under the age of 25 and thinking about my personal accomplishments over the past decade, the players of my generation and their accomplishments over the past decade and the current crop of great players under the age of 25 – The Blake Griffins, the Damian Lillards and the Paul Georges. I wish them well on carrying the torch that KG, Kidd and Kobe held so brightly for so many years. I wish Kobe good health and Kidd happiness at the next stage of his life. As for me, I wish the cute girl at the checkout counter wouldn’t address me as sir.
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