LOS ANGELES—Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant had a typically solid performance from the field last night, scoring 25 points to propel his team to a holy shit, it's hard to believe these words are even gracing this page, but on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, the American people elected a black man to the office of the President of the United States.
Words really can't describe how…or what, or…. Wow.
Bryant, who got off to a slow start early, but managed to find his touch late in the third, incredible. A black president for a nation whose entire history has been haunted by the specter of slavery and plagued by racism since before its inception. That this happened in our lifetime is remarkable; that it happened within 50 years of a time when segregation was still considered an acceptable institution is astonishing. Absolutely astonishing. This is an achievement on par with the moon landing.
Bryant closed out the fourth quarter with eight points in five minutes.
"It was just a question of finding my rhythm, not forcing it, and playing within the offense," said Bryant, who also…a black man. President. Not the president of a community board, or the president of a business, but the president of the United States of America—the highest office in the land, the commander in chief, the de facto leader of the free world—is a black man chosen by a majority of his fellow citizens.
"This game shows you that free throws really do matter and [the great American Paradox—that is, the conflicting notion that a nation could be founded on the guiding principle that all men are created equal, but be built upon the backs of slaves—may not have been completely resolved on Tuesday night, but it was certainly resolved to an extent that would have been unimaginable to Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and most certainly Thomas Jefferson, and it was resolved by the combined will of the American people]."
"You also have to give the bench a lot of credit," Bryant added.
Lakers forward Lamar Odom also chipped in with 16 points and eight boards in the historic 349-162 Electoral College victory over the slumping Clippers, who are clearly missing the presence of former power forward Elton Brand—a Democrat, let alone a black Democrat, winning Indiana for the first time in 44 years? Florida? Ohio? Maybe even North goddamned Carolina? Are you fucking kidding? Is it absolutely confirmed that he won Virginia? Virginia, for crying out loud. Fucking crazy is what that is.
The 2008 league MVP was solid on the defensive end of the court as well, holding Clippers guard Baron Davis to just 12 points and when they called Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida for Obama, basically ensuring victory, that was a moment in which all Americans, regardless of race, creed, color, or party affiliation had to stand back and say, "Holy shit, this is actually going to happen. Holy shit…. Holy shit. Holy shit! Holy shit!"
The undefeated Lakers came into Wednesday night's game against the Clippers with a 3-0 record, and looked to continue their dominance in states like New York, California, and Massachusetts, but Bryant looked to get Lakers center Virginia involved early, and as recently as four years ago, it would have been unfathomable that citizens there would vote for a Democrat, let alone an African-American.
"We see the election of a black president, and Pau Gasol's good shooting night, as a positive sign of things to come," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. "It's still early in the season, and there are a lot of things we need to work on, but I'm a product of the '60s, a baby boomer, so I'll blame our lull in the third quarter on me thinking back to the race riots during the civil rights movement, the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the separate but equal laws that plagued this nation, and how I thought then that in a million years we would never elect a black president. The fact that I am even saying these words is pretty fucking incredible."
"Kobe works well when he remains poised and trusts the triangle offense," Jackson added.
Two hundred thousand people of different races and ages—some crying, some cheering, all overjoyed because of the racial barrier they helped break down—were in attendance at Chicago's Grant Park for Wednesday's game, and stayed through the night, laughing, singing, cheering, and high-fiving even after the Lakers game was over and they won Colorado and the election was officially in garbage time.
Said Lakers forward Barack Obama to the entire world on his team's victory: "Yes, we can."
Fucking right we can. We did! We really did! I don't mind telling you I spilled out into the street along with all my joyfully screaming neighbors and danced right there to whatever songs anybody wanted to sing, including—and I can't believe we actually did this, but compared to electing a black man to the presidency, absolutely nothing is unbelievable anymore—an impromptu version of "God Bless America," which is the least danceable song in the world, but fuck it, we sang and danced to "God Bless America," and I'll bet you anything that no one there ever meant it more.
"I just wish that my mother, father, and grandfather could have seen this," said 52-year-old African-American Mark Booker, a Lakers fan who called this the single greatest moment of his entire life. "We won. We won. We won."