Mamba out: Closing the book on Kobe Bryant

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Editor's note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely the author's.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — It's over.

No more Kobe Bryant. No more Black Mamba. No more Vino. No more #8. No more #24.

Kobe gave us and the Los Angeles Lakers 20 years of fadeaways, dunks, ball fakes, heat checks, I'm-going-to-destroy-you facial expressions, playing through injuries, missed jumpers, time-winding-down clutch shots and game-winners.

Now he's saying goodbye... for good.

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Honestly, when I was growing up, I was one of the few who didn't cheer for the Chicago Bulls as much as almost everyone did. As a short kid who relied mostly on fastbreaks to get points, I rooted for Magic Johnson. I fell in love with the Showtime Lakers and everything they represented.

I witnessed the Lakers win championships in the 80s, and I witnessed them lose a step in the early 90s. Later in 1996, they added Shaquille O'Neal to a roster that already included Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones. That same year, the Lakers acquired a high school kid.

Kobe_Bryant_Pippen_1999_CNNPH.jpg I was fascinated with Kobe because he brought a certain flare to the Lakers. People took notice during his rookie year, but soon his game grew and inevitably became one of the league's best players. His star status reached new heights when the Lakers won championships.

One thing I admired about Kobe was his relentlessness. He just was never satisfied. He made you believe that there was another level, even if there wasn't. That's the kind of influence he had on me.

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I'm still having a hard time digesting that there will be no more Kobe Bryant after this. The NBA won't be the same without him, the same way the NBA was never the same without Michael Jordan. Watching Lakers games without Kobe would be weird.

I followed him since I was 13 years old. I cheered for him since 1996. So this, for me, is heartbreaking. Painful.

It hurts like unrequited love. You admire a girl for a long period of time, exchange messages with her, and share laughs together. Her smile always leaves you in awe. Just having her around gives you warm feelings, like sipping a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day.

There's a sense of happiness and fulfillment, that even though there's a 99 percent chance you won't end up with her, each interaction and chance encounter with her makes you believe otherwise — that there's a one percent chance it can happen, that it will happen.

Then everything suddenly changes.

Kobe_Bryant_8_CNNPH.jpg All the smiles turn into frowns. Your jokes aren't funny to her anymore. She gets tired of your ways. Then she tells you, "I'm sorry, I just don't feel the same way." Loneliness creeps in and you feel like you're standing in a desolate place where no other person can see or hear you. Nothingness. Just you and the faint sound of your heart breaking.

That's almost what this feels like. But Kobe leaving the game hurts so much more.

Related: I want my legacy to impact future players, says Kobe Bryant

We'll miss the 81 points, the All-Star and All-NBA First Team selections, the Olympic gold medals, the championships, and all those MVP awards. And we'll surely miss the storybook-ending 60-point finale.

It's going to take a while before I get over this. But it's time to let go.

Goodbye, Kobe Bryant.

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