Experiencing Kobe’s last game in D.C. with Kia, official auto partner of the NBA

Experiencing Kobe’s last game in D.C. with Kia, official auto partner of the NBA

I learned at a young age not to do things that I’m not naturally inclined to be good at…

…like basketball.

I must have been six or seven years old when I asked my parents to join my school’s co-ed basketball team. (Trust me, this was the first of many examples from my childhood where I’d randomly decide to take up a new activity and then excitedly announce it to my parents, hoping they’d go along.) Part of my request was due to peer pressure; a few of my friends were joining the team and they encouraged me to play, too. I figured that was good enough reason to give basketball a try (yes, I reasoned at the ripe age of six).

With the flick of a pen on a permission slip, I was part of the St. Stephens Lutheran “Warriors” basketball team.

I’ll never forget the defining moments of both the start–and abrupt conclusion–of my b-ball career: we were in the peak of a close game when I cleverly stole the ball away from the opponent. I was feeling good as I proudly dribbled down the court. But before I knew it, that punk had stolen the ball right out from under me! Another embarrassing instance in the same game had me completely spaced out as my buddy passed the ball to me (because I was open, duh). It bounced passed me and went out of bounds, giving the other team control of the ball. I could see the look of disappointment in my male teammate’s face. Wow, I thought, I was really terrible at this game.

I may have only been in the First Grade, but I knew then and there that basketball was not the sport for me.

If I were kinder to my six-year-old self, perhaps I’d take comfort in saying that the game was too fast-paced for me and I just didn’t fully understand the rules.

Years later, as I grew taller faster than most of my classmates, I constantly fielded the question of what sports I must play. First on the list of assumptions? Basketball. (Mentally rolls eyes.) I usually played it off by responding that I tried the sport when I was younger and discovered I was actually no good at it and add that I was perfectly happy as a softball and volleyball player.

What does all of this backstory have to do with Kobe Bryant, the LA Lakers, and Kia? Not much other than cluing you into just how out of touch I have been with the sport for the last quarter of a century. But one thing I’ve learned is that no matter what sports you follow, any sport is fun to watch live.

Fast forward to Wednesday, December 2, 2015.

Kobe Bryant has just announced his retirement from the NBA. I mean, how can I not be excited to watch him play in person? Everyone knows Kobe; he’s been a pro basketball all-star since he was 17. Now 37, Bryant has spent two decades dominating the court.

Kia, the official automotive partner of the NBA, hosted a small group of DC-based automotive media for the Lakers’ game at the Washington Wizards. The house was packed. Ticket prices skyrocketed upon Kobe’s big announcement. And it seemed like everyone in the arena, despite team allegiances, was there to give him a round of applause for his last game in Washington, D.C.

Me? Well, I don’t have any basketball allegiances (except the UNC Tarheels!), so you bet I hopped right on that bandwagon and cheered for Kobe and the Lakers.

If you’re a basketball fanatic, then you already know that the game was a bit of a nail-biter, with both teams proving their worth on the floor and at the net. It literally came down to the last few seconds with the L.A. Lakers pulling off the win. The arena instantly filled with cheers and claps as Kobe slowly walked off the court—taking his time to soak up the love, of course. This moment of appreciation for an athlete who has worked so hard and has displayed so much talent over the years was almost tangible.

I may have to live out my basketball dreams vicariously, but I’m glad to have witnessed a great game with two formidable teams, and the final D.C. game for the legendary Kobe Bryant.

Disclaimer: Kia Motors America, the official sponsor of the NBA, provided tickets to the event mentioned in this post. The company also provided food and beverage on site for Be Car Chic and a guest.

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Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.