WR 121 FA #2 Rhetorical Analysis Dear Basketball By Kobe Bryant

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Tyler Bryson
WR 121
Rhetorical Analysis
Kobe Bryant, a five time NBA champion, 4 time scoring champion, 2 time NBA Finals
MVP and a 20 year stint in the the league, threw in the white towel on his career almost
two years ago. As a long time sports fan I was saddened by his decision to leave but
was mostly intrigued by the way he went about it. On November 29th, 2015 Bryant
released a piece of poetry to the Players Tribune, a site where athletes can write and
publish articles on Mental Health, their career, or anything relating to the players
themselves. Although all NBA fans knew Kobe’s retirement was imminent, the way he
approached his message was different and gravitated towards not just sports fans but
everyone. This poem which I will be writing my rhetorical analysis on, was made into a
short film and released on April 23rd, 2017. It then when on to win an Academy Award
and Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding PostProduced Graphic Design, and Nominated for a number of other awards.
The actual structure of the poem itself is very inconsistent with stanzas being one
to three lines or even up to seven in some cases. I think he did this on purpose to give
the reader some time to dig into the shorter lines of the poem and the messages behind
them. For example in the 2nd stanza of the poem, He writes “I fell in love with you.” Now
a reader can interpret this in an array of ways. The theme of the poem is basketball but
as a sports fan and former player myself I take away something more from this line. You
can feel and understand that from the moment he first held a basketball, a connection
was born. Love for a sport or love in general is tricky. For most, love can be something
that has accumulated over time, the more you are around someone or something the
more you become interested and involved in that particular thing. For the select few
however, that love can overtake you in an instant. Obsessing your every thought and
influencing your every movement. That is what basketball was to Kobe Bryant, his first
love.
Bryant words the poem and presents it as a letter to his long time love affair, the
game of Basketball. This poem allows you to create an image that the sport was more
than just a game to him, it was apart of him. He talks about doing the most for his love
like how he “ran up and down every court / After every loose ball for you” and “you
asked for my hustle / I gave you my heart”. The reader can understand from these lines
impraticular that his relationship with the sport was a more intimate one than business
related. People can relate these lines to memories with a loved one instead of
basketball and that's why I think this poem gravitated to so many. Even without being a
sports fan you can still find connection within the words and how they can make you
feel.
Bryant obviously had an incredible career and had a superman complex to him.
He coined the phrase “Mamba Mentality” which in an interview with CBN Sports he said
“ To sum up what Mamba Mentality is, it means to be able to constantly try to be the
best version of yourself," Bryant said. "That is what the Mentality is,". The reason why I
brought up “Mamba Mentality” is because you can see some of its presence in the
poem. “ I never saw the end of the tunnel / I just saw myself running out of one”. Kobe is
referring to his dream of being in the NBA and how he never saw an end to it. He only
saw the grind and how he was meant to succeed. Many athletes live by the “Mamba
Mentality” and has become a stapled statement in the sports world.
Kobe’s prolific use of apostrophe shows his pain and raw emotions. Throughout
the poem, Basketball’s presence is overwhelming yet silent despite Bryant’s relentless
love. The relationship described in the poem is one sided where Kobe would put his
blood and tears into his love for the game but wouldn’t get anything in return . “I played
through the sweat and hurt / Not because challenge called me / But because YOU
called me. / I did everything for YOU / Because that’s what you do / When someone
makes you feel as / Alive as you’ve made me feel.”
The reason why Kobe is so respected in the sports world is not because of his
accolades but his “Mamba Mentality”. The ability to work with what you are given and
make it the best possible thing it can be. His attitude towards any situation is always
hard work and determination and that is a very respectable trait. “My heart can take the
pounding / My mind can handle the grind / But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”
These lines clearly represent his willingness to continue his career but age and physical
limitations hold him back. There is a line more interesting however that foreshadows the
future for Kobe Bryant and is a good example on how to move forward from a broken
heart and relationship. “ I’m ready to let you go. I want you to know now / So we both
can savor every moment we have left together. / The good and the bad. / We have
given each other / All that we have.”
I chose to do this poem for my rhetorical analysis not just because I am a
basketball fan but because when I first read this poem, It perfectly described how I felt
about the sport and some people in my life. The one sided relationship that Kobe
shared with basketball is one even non sports fans can relate to. I believe that to be the
reason why this poem became so popular with the general audience.
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