Before discussing anything sport and or West Ham related, I would like to send my deepest condolences to the 9 people who were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles last Sunday. Two of the 9 in the helicopter that crashed were Kobe Bryant the legendary basketball player and his 13 year old daughter called Gianna. People die every day but the death of such a prominent figure not only in basketball but in sport as a whole really resonated with me, and made me consider things in a different way.
I cannot claim to have grown up an avid basketball fan, it is football and West Ham that consumed my childhood and now adult life. However at University I joined the men’s basketball team, not as a player just as a social member I’d like to add! I began to watch more basketball and learn more about the players and the sport, and Kobe Bryant was clearly a legend of the game who transcended the sport as people who have no interest in basketball probably had heard this man’s name.
This past weekend has been interesting for me, apart from the sadness of learning about Bryant’s death on Sunday, on Saturday I was at the London Stadium to watch us exit the 4th round of the FA Cup at the hands of Slaven Bilic’s Baggies. As we have been for the vast majority of this season, we were extremely poor. A combination of injuries, a lack of confidence and quality is really costing us and could see us be relegated which would not be surprising given the mismanagement of the club from the top to the bottom. Balbuena was misplacing incredibly simple passes and looks devoid of confidence, Zabaleta is a great pro but why was he given a contract extension? These are two examples in the defence alone that are symbolic of the embarrassment that is West Ham at the moment.
The Sullivan and Gold era has been discussed a lot recently given it’s been 10 years since they took over, and I’m sure most West Ham fans are pleased to see more media outlets discuss the shambolic lack of investment in the training ground and lack of scouting and recruitment system. There are league 1 teams with better training facilities than us, the reports of the club employing one scout are laughable but not at all surprising. We all know to stand a chance of avoiding the drop this season, we need the current players to roll their sleeves up and dig in but also at least one player to arrive before the January deadline. I’m sat here trying to be positive and if you look at most of my articles, I usually find something but it is very bleak at the moment and the fans do not deserve it.
Too many players have regressed or aren’t good enough at this football club. I sat in my seat on Saturday and at half time said to my brother and Dad something along the lines of ‘how the f**k did Carlos Sanchez become a professional footballer?’ No other Premier League team would include Sanchez in a squad, let alone start him in games but because we’ve sold so many players and the board have dithered in the market for so long, our central midfield options are pathetic. Lanzini looks a shadow of his former self, and the fact Fornals continues to be subbed by Moyes instead of the Argentinian worries me. To sum up my scrambled thoughts, we have a great keeper who’s sadly been injured for too much of the season, and then the defence, midfield and attack includes some talented players but they look lost and I don’t know how much Moyes will benefit them/us fans.
To summarise, Kobe was known as the black Mamba and was especially known for a mamba mentality, indeed his book is titled ‘The Mamba Mentality’. On his book tour in 2016, the man himself described what it really means ‘To sum up what Mamba Mentality is, it means to be able “to constantly try to be the best version of yourself," Bryant said. It’s a constant quest to try to better today than you were yesterday.’ I think we all can learn from Bryant’s words, whether you apply that to everyday life, being kinder to friends and family and chasing your dreams, or whether you aspire to be an athlete like him. All I know is I really hope the West Ham players have seen what Kobe represented, and they work harder to try get us out of the mess we are in.
Hope everyone is well, and has a great week.