Interviewing Kobe were some of the Happiest Times of my Life
By David Block Patch Mayor (Published on the Patch.com website Jan. 29, 2020)
When I learned that Kobe Bryant died, I was too upset to write anything. All I wanted to do was wake up and learn that it was just a nightmare. It took me a couple of days to get back on my computer.
I had the honor of interviewing Kobe Bryant four times for the Main Line Times (based outside of Philadelphia): Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2000, Saturday, January 26, 2002, Monday, February 12, 2007, and Saturday, February 7, 2009.
He did not always grant interviews, but he was generous with the Main Line Times because it was his hometown newspaper. Moreover, in 1996 when Kobe decided to go straight from high school to the NBA, the Main Line Times, contrary to the doubters, knew that he would succeed because the publication covered his entire high school basketball career. Kobe knew this, too. He told me that the doubters would shut up in the long run.
When I interviewed Kobe, he sounded humble, especially when he shared his experience of trying to play wheelchair basketball.
(From my article Feb. 2009)
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BLOCK: Have you ever seen people in wheelchairs play basketball?
KB: I have.
BLOCK: What was your impression?
KB: It was pretty unbelievable. Actually, they invited me to play with them. So I tried, and I wasn’t very good at all.
BLOCK: When was this?
KB: I think it was two years ago.
BLOCK: So they sat you down in the wheelchair and had you play?
KB: Yeah. (Laughs) I tried to play, but I couldn’t keep up.
BLOCK: What did you learn from playing in a wheelchair?
KB: You get such a greater sense of appreciation for their athleticism; what it is that they do. You have to be incredibly talented and strong to be able to do that.
(You can read that article by going to my website www.blindfilmmaker.com.)
Interviewing Kobe Meant so much to Me
Being a freelance journalist, along with being legally blind, and on the Autism Spectrum, while sometimes coping with severe bouts of depression, made it difficult for me to remember my strengths. Moreover, being reminded of my short-comings by other people and myself also made it hard for me to look past my disabilities and focus on my abilities. But every time I interviewed Kobe, I’d feel happy and then think positively. Interviewing Kobe always made me feel better than my anti-depressants. I know that I should not rely on external validation to make me feel better, but as the adage goes, “it’s easier said than done.” When I slipped back onto the negative paths, it was never 100 percent, thanks to Kobe.
When I interviewed Kobe for the first time, I was so elated that I went out and ran eight miles, even though I was out of shape. I was too happy to think of anything negative. It was one of the first times when I felt like somebody.
Prior to that, I felt insignificant as a reporter.
Back in 2000, I tele-marketed for the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Some of my “colleagues” whom I rarely spoke with were die-hard NBA fans. When I played for one of them portions of my taped interview with Kobe, my “associate” said:
“David, that is so scary. Kobe is actually talking to you. You sound just like a sports writer.”
“I’ve been telling you that for over a year,” I responded.
He said that he must not have been listening.
I have had the ongoing battle of having to prove myself. I still have to prove myself today, even though I have a Masters’ in Journalism from Temple University in Philadelphia. In addition, The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer each published four of my articles. I interviewed other high profile people like Bill Cosby, Triple H. (Paul Levesque), and Smokin’ Joe Frazier, while also producing eight documentaries, many of which won film festival awards, and I still have to prove myself. People just see my disabilities without seeing me. Talking to Kobe helped put me on the right path, and when I slipped off, it was never all the way. A part of me still knew that I was better than I thought. Kobe and numerous other individuals have kept me on the right track.
Kobe gave me the gift of feeling better about myself. I will always be grateful to him.
Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant.
You can read my published Kobe Bryant articles on my website at www.blindfilmmaker.com