fbpx
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Day Kobe Bryant Died

https://jewishjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jj_avatar.jpg
David Suissa
David Suissa is President of Tribe Media/Jewish Journal, where he has been writing a weekly column on the Jewish world since 2006. In 2015, he was awarded first prize for "Editorial Excellence" by the American Jewish Press Association. Prior to Tribe Media, David was founder and CEO of Suissa Miller Advertising, a marketing firm named “Agency of the Year” by USA Today. He sold his company in 2006 to devote himself full time to his first passion: Israel and the Jewish world. David was born in Casablanca, Morocco, grew up in Montreal, and now lives in Los Angeles with his five children.

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

My two worlds collided on Sunday, Jan. 26, a day that will surely live in L.A. infamy. It was right before noon, and I had just finished moderating a panel on anti-Semitism at the Z3 Conference at Stephen Wise Temple.

I knew something was up from the first text I got, which simply said: “KOBE BRYANT!!!”

Since he’s no longer playing, I thought, this cannot be good.

Sure enough, as I was milling around a little sea of Jews who had come to discuss the future of Zionism and some of the challenges facing the Jewish world, the news hit me with the second text, and the third, and the fourth.

Kobe Bryant, a virtual member of my family from the day he joined my beloved Lakers 24 years ago, had perished in a helicopter crash, on a foggy hill not far from where I was standing.

I got dizzy. My mind started racing. Should I go to a quiet corner and cry? Should I call my son in Israel who adores Kobe? Should I seek out more information on the crash?

I was surrounded by people I hadn’t seen in years. I was looking forward to reconnecting with them. As the news of Kobe’s death flooded my brain, I had to click on that other part of my brain that says: “You must look happy and schmooze, no matter what.”

I’ve had plenty of practice doing that — no matter how dark the thoughts in my mind, if I’m at a public event, I’ve learned to smile and fake it so as not to dump my darkness on others.

I got dizzy. My mind started racing. Should I go to a quiet corner and cry? Should I call my son in Israel who adores Kobe?

It was harder to do that on Sunday, but I tried.

The afternoon turned into a blur of love and darkness. I was loving the depth of conversation on so many Jewish issues that mean so much to me, but Kobe’s death kept assaulting me. And I was thinking about my son in Israel, who wasn’t answering his phone. 

The Lakers have always represented for me a kind of ultimate “safe space.” When I moved to L.A. in the early 1980s, way before I had kids, the Lakers became my brightest and proudest connection to my new town. They boosted not just my mood but my civic pride. When I went to games, I could experience, like nowhere else, the cultural kaleidoscope of this great city.

As I got more involved with the Jewish world and had to comment on things like wars and terrorism and anti-Semitism and endless communal strife, the refuge provided by the Lakers became even more welcome. The incredible thing about sports, I would say, is that you get all the drama of the real world — conflict, fierce competition, tribalism, winners and losers — without anyone dying.

That sanctuary was also true in my family. No matter all the ups and downs in our lives, we could always count on the Lakers for moments of safe, enjoyable drama.

The death of Kobe pierced that safe space, especially for me and my son.

Kobe would always come up in our conversations. He had a work ethic, a drive to excel and an ability to overcome obstacles that we both admired and tried to emulate. Kobe was far from perfect, but he had the will to improve and get the most out of life.

Suddenly, this man of life who had so influenced our lives was gone. And finally, in the early afternoon, my son answered his phone. He had already heard the news. I had to go outside because I knew I might break down. 

The afternoon turned into a blur of love and darkness. I was loving the depth of conversation on so many Jewish issues that mean so much to me, but Kobe’s death kept assaulting me. 

Part of me wanted to protect him by looking strong, but it didn’t matter. I lost control. I was unable to click on the “fake it” part of my brain, so I just cried.

It was probably better that way. It was too early to share the coping mechanisms that help us function in times of loss (“He’ll live forever in our hearts” and so on). We both needed a moment of pure sadness to honor a man who had meant so much to us.

As the day wore on, the pain got even deeper as the news came of the other eight people who died in the crash, including Kobe’s daughter Gianna. By then, people at the conference were talking about the tragedy. A horrifically violent accident had interrupted a day of highly civilized thought and dialogue.

Maybe we don’t need to rush to draw lessons from dark episodes in our fragile lives. A human earthquake hit Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, that many of us will long remember, each for our own reasons.

Sometimes it’s enough to just stare at reality and cry.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Missouri Gov. Signs Anti-BDS Bill Into Law

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill into law on July 13 barring the state government from providing contracts to companies that...

Jewish Women’s Theatre Stages ‘For Goodness’ Sake’ Via Zoom

The tales and musical interludes about life, love and loss, are variously funny, empowering, and heartbreaking.

Ilhan Omar Endorsed by Nancy Pelosi as Opponent Raises Millions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, lent her considerable weight to the reelection bid of Rep. Ilhan...

Andy Cohen Gets Candid in New Quibi Series ‘The Andy Cohen Diaries’

Is there such a thing as too much information? Apparently, not for Andy Cohen. The gossip-loving Bravo talk show host gets extremely candid in “The...

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized for Suspected Infection

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been hospitalized with a suspected infection. A Supreme Court statement said Ginsburg, 87, “is resting...

Israelis May Be Limited to Spending High Holidays With Nuclear Family, Report Says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Health Ministry is considering ordering Israelis to limit their Rosh Hashanah celebrations to only their nuclear families, an Israeli newspaper...

ADL Hosts Discussion on Passage of Georgia Hate Crime Law

In a July 10 Zoom webinar, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) discussed how Georgia was able pass and have signed into law its recent hate...

‘Hamilton’ Reminds Us to Forgive Before We Condemn

"Hamilton" got me thinking about the concept of forgiveness and the equally powerful concept of rehabilitation.

Tovah Feldshuh Talks Golda Meir, Grandchildren and Voting

Feldshuh has been using the time to write a memoir about her mother, getting to know her first grandson and awaiting the birth of two granddaughters.  

Andrew Yang, Donald Trump Jr., and NY Times Staff React to Bari Weiss’ Resignation

New York Times editor and "How to Fight Anti-Semitism" author Bari Weiss announced that she is resigning from the publication.

Culture

Jewish Women’s Theatre Stages ‘For Goodness’ Sake’ Via Zoom

The tales and musical interludes about life, love and loss, are variously funny, empowering, and heartbreaking.

Andy Cohen Gets Candid in New Quibi Series ‘The Andy Cohen Diaries’

Is there such a thing as too much information? Apparently, not for Andy Cohen. The gossip-loving Bravo talk show host gets extremely candid in “The...

Tovah Feldshuh Talks Golda Meir, Grandchildren and Voting

Feldshuh has been using the time to write a memoir about her mother, getting to know her first grandson and awaiting the birth of two granddaughters.  

Life’s a Jewish Love Story for Disney Songwriting Duo

If you’re the parent of Disney-obsessed offspring, you’ve likely heard their music in the “Zombies” and “High School Musical” franchises and “Marvel Rising.”

ArtCenter President Lorne Buchman on Overseeing College Like a Theater Director

While many university presidents and administrators run colleges from a strictly business or educational mindset, Lorne Buchman runs college like a director would run...

Latest Articles
Latest

Missouri Gov. Signs Anti-BDS Bill Into Law

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill into law on July 13 barring the state government from providing contracts to companies that...

Jewish Women’s Theatre Stages ‘For Goodness’ Sake’ Via Zoom

The tales and musical interludes about life, love and loss, are variously funny, empowering, and heartbreaking.

Ilhan Omar Endorsed by Nancy Pelosi as Opponent Raises Millions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, lent her considerable weight to the reelection bid of Rep. Ilhan...

Andy Cohen Gets Candid in New Quibi Series ‘The Andy Cohen Diaries’

Is there such a thing as too much information? Apparently, not for Andy Cohen. The gossip-loving Bravo talk show host gets extremely candid in “The...

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized for Suspected Infection

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been hospitalized with a suspected infection. A Supreme Court statement said Ginsburg, 87, “is resting...

Hollywood

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

‘Expecting Amy’ Highlights a New Comedy Dynamic of Jewish Mothers Making, Not Being, the Jokes

Jewish moms like Amy Schumer, who were once the material, have become the premier comics of this age.

Podcasts

Cancel Culture, Pro-LGBTQ Palestinian Tahini and Coronavirus Weddings

Naor and Eytan talk about everything that's been going on in Israel lately. 

Pandemic Times Episode 69: What does the rise of Anti-Americanism mean for the Jews?

New David Suissa Podcast Every Monday and Friday. Reflections on the connection between Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism. How do we manage our lives during the coronavirus crisis?...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x