By Hanah Tabios
A day before Kobe Bryant’s tragic death Monday in Calabasas City in Los Angeles, the City of Valenzuela unveiled what could now be considered a tribute to one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Now called “House of Kobe,” the court was originally built as a convention center in Barangay Karuhatan. But Valenzuela City 2nd District Representative Eric Martinez, the House committee chair on youth and sports development, told the Manila Bulletin that a group of artists had painted a huge mural of Kobe Bryant on the cemented fence, prompting them to transform it into a basketball court.
The artwork even had a text: “Heroes come and go but legends are forever.”
Martinez said the inauguration accidentally coincided with the Black Mamba’s death.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash which left millions of fans from across the globe devastated.
The fans paid tribute by remembering him as a great man on and off the court.
Reports claim Bryant had “no friends” in a basketball game. But his “Mamba Mentality” had influenced a lot of people in many ways than he could not imagine. The NBA superstar also runs a foundation for the homeless for many years.
“Noon ngang inauguration noong Sunday sabi ko sa microphone, I am calling on Kobe Bryant na if bumalik siya sa Pilipinas, please visit Valenzuela City,” said Martinez, a diehard fan of the Lakers legend.
Martinez said the court was also adorned with other Lakers memorabilia, including T-shirts hung on the side railings, as well as images of Bryant’s teammates like NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal whom he had a celebrated feud before.
He said the court even served as a makeshift funeral on Monday for mourning fans who also offered candles and flowers outside.
The city, in fact, is famous for its hoops courts inspired by other NBA teams like San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets, among others.
Martinez said “House of Kobe” was the sixth.
At around 10 a.m. Sunday (US time) news broke out that a helicopter had crashed in a hilly aread I Calabasas City.