Radwan Bakkali is a 23 year old 108cm power forward/center from England that completed his rookie season in Germany with the ETB Wohnbau Miners (Germany-Regionalliga) averaging 14,4ppg and 10,6rpg. He began his basketball career with the Barking Abbey Leopards (EBL D3). He then played at Kilgore JC (JUCO) from 2015-2017 playing a total of 57 games. In the 2017-2018 season he made new experiences with Jacksonville (NCAA) playing 27 games averaging 3.3ppg, 2.3rpg. Last season he made one more jump and played with Indianapolis (NCAA2) playing 21 games averaging 1.8ppg, 1.5rpg. He spoke to germanhoops.com about his memories of Kobe Bryant
Where were you and how did you find about the death of Kobe Bryant?
I was sitting in my apartment playing a video game when I received a notification on my phone with the news. I couldn’t believe it. I completely stopped everything I was doing and waited for more information to come through. I would compare this death to the magnitude of Michael Jackson’s death in terms of global impact. We all remember where we were when Michael Jackson died and I’ll never forget where I was and how I felt the moment I got that notification about Kobe.
When I heard about it, I thought it was a hoax. What were your first thoughts when you heard about it?
I was hoping it somehow wasn’t true, I was hoping it was a bad joke or mistake. I was in shock. I am aware that our time will come when it is supposed to but this just seemed so premature. It may sound silly, but my immediate thought was ‘Kobe can’t die.’ Almost like he was a superhero or something. For many, including myself he was.
How much of your day the day after did you take informing yourself about his death and watching videos?
Outside of practice and workouts that’s all I did the next day, watch his highlights, best moments and interviews as well as watching interviews of those that were close to him as they shared stories about Kobe and the impact he had on their lives.
Can you remember about when you first knew about Kobe Bryant and what was your first impression of him as a kid?
So I started playing organized basketball at 16, but it seemed like Kobe was always somebody I admired in my life. Even before I picked up a ball I would watch his ‘signature moves’ videos on YouTube where he would breakdown his famous fadeaway shot, jab steps and reverse layup moves among others. I was simply impressed by how focused he was on the smallest details of every aspect of what – to the untrained eye – seems like a simple move. That kind of focus and passion is something that could be applied to anything in life which is why Kobe transcended sports and had such a global following.
How did your love for Kobe Bryant develop over time as you were growing up? How do you remember following his career?
It’s strange because I never proclaimed myself a Kobe super fan or anything but it seemed like he was also a subconscious influence in different aspects of my life. When I picked up basketball I eventually became obsessed with Kobe shoes, especially the 8’s so I started to collect that one silhouette in as many colours as I could. I always felt like Kobe had the best style and shoe collection on the market. Not only this, but in my senior year of college when my usual number wasn’t available, my first thoughts was to wear number 24 ‘because Kobe did it.’ Furthermore, for my last ever project in college as part of my video editing class we were asked to create a 30-minute documentary on the life of someone who inspired as. Immediately Kobe Bryant was my choice. So as you can see, he’s always subtly had in influence in my life even without me thinking much about it, which goes to show how iconic he truly was and still is.
Kobe Bryant was for so many the greatest ever. What did you appreciate most about his game? Was he a guy that you pretended to be on the playgrounds?
For me, the most impressive part about Kobe Bryant was not his signature fade-away, his ability to make tough shots over 4 defenders or even his ability to make these same shots with his left hand! What I appreciate most about his game was his renowned ‘Mamba Mentality’ Kobe Bryant himself described Mamba mentality as ‘all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most,’ ‘It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit. It started just as a hashtag that came to me one day, and it’s grown into something athletes – and even non-athletes – embrace as a mindset.’ The last part is what makes it so powerful, that no matter what your profession or task at hand is, this mentality can be used to achieve optimal performance and the success you are looking for.
Kobe Bryant had so many amazing games like his 81 points and countless other games where it was lights out as well as winning 5 titles. What is your fondest memory of him of what he did on the court?
My favourite Kobe Bryant game has to be his last. It’s no secret that Kobe struggled to replicate his prime form in his latter years, especially after his devastating Achilles injury. But for his last game, he was able to overcome all his adversities to create what is surely one of the most memorable performances in the NBA ever, scoring 60 points and securing an important win over Utah. His famous post game speech with the ‘Mamba Out’ line was a fitting end to such an illustrious career.
The outpouring of sadness was incredible. Guys were crying and leaving heart felt messages on Social Media. How long do you think it will take until the basketball world comes to terms with this tragedy?
Life has an unfortunate way of moving on but this death is certainly one that will hurt for a long time and for many people. What gives me some peace of mind about Kobe Bryant’s life is that he did what he had to do to ensure that his name and his legacy is remembered for generations to come.
When you look back in 20 years on the career of Kobe Bryant how will you remember his legacy best?
Kobe’s legacy can be best summed up by his pure competitive spirit, the willingness to make the sacrifices necessary and do the things that the next person is not willing to do in order to come out on top. His work ethic and approach to be the best at whatever he did has inspired countless numbers of people from all walks of life, across a multitude of different disciplines. It’s just such a shame that we didn’t get to see all the other great things he was going to go on and do with his life. He won an Oscar award for his work in animation and was having great success with his Mama Sports Academy, his children’s books and all his other business ventures. I wonder what was going to be next.
One of my last questions in my standard interviews is what is your opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James. Often players remind me that I left out Kobe Bryant.I have been thinking about this a lot . How worthy is a Kobe Bryant to be seen as the greatest of all-time?
Whenever the MJ-LBJ debate arises I’ve always been one to mention that Kobe Bryant must be included in the conversation. If you watch film of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant side by side you’ll see that they were almost identical in their style of play and the way they carried themselves. Kobe Bryant is a worthy candidate for the position of GOAT because of this and all the personal and team accolades he was able to collect throughout his career. Kobe Bryant should certainly always be in the conversation. More than anything else though, it’s important to spend more time appreciating these players and what they have done for the game of basketball in their own right rather than waste time debating about who is best, something we will never have a definitive, concrete answer for.
My last question isn’t what is the last movie you saw, but what video of Kobe Bryant will you take a look again when you have some time to look back at his great career?
When the time is right I’ll dig up that 30 minute documentary I made in college about his life and rewatch it.
Thanks Radwan for sharing your intense memories of Kobe Bryant