One of the greatest basketball players to ever play could become the inspiration for the next NBA logo if a B.C. teenager gets his way.
Kobe Bryant died Sunday in Calabasas, Calif., at the age of 41. The retired five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers was travelling with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others when their helicopter crashed, killing all nine people on board.
The tragedy shocked sports fans all over the world, leaving some to wonder how they could immortalize Bryant’s greatness beyond just words.
To honour his legacy as a determined, hard-working athlete with the heart of a champion, Vancouver’s 16-year-old Nikyar Moghtader started an online petition to change the NBA’s logo to feature Bryant.
His initiative is called “for the Black Mamba” and it’s quickly picking up steam.
“I wish Kobe was still here and I never had to make this petition to begin with,” Moghtader wrote in the petition’s description. “But sadly that isn’t the case, my condolences go out to the Bryant family and everyone who was involved in this accident.”
Former NBA player Jamal Crawford also showed support for the idea in a Twitter post on Sunday and he wasn’t alone.
Since its launch, the petition has racked up numbers that only Bryant could eclipse. As of Tuesday morning, less than 48 hours since Bryant’s death, the petition has hit more than 1.8 million signatures, more than halfway to its goal of three million.
“Wow. I truly cannot express this, the support from you guys has been overwhelmingly amazing,” Moghtader said.
Petition website Change.org revealed celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, T.I., Justin Bieber, Usher, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Levine, Meek Mill and Naomi Campbell have all signed on and shared the request, which has since gone viral.
Michael Jones, managing director of Change.org, said this petition is the first of 2020 to reach one million signatures anywhere in the world.
“As the world comes to terms with the death of someone as famous and well-known as Kobe Bryant, Nick has given basketball fans an outlet to create a permanent memory of someone who made history in the NBA,” he said.
The current NBA logo was created by a designer in 1969 and has become one of the most iconic in sports. It currently features another basketball legend, Jerry West, who was also devastated by Bryant’s death.
West, a former Lakers general manager, had a special relationship with Bryant, starting when he traded for him in 1996.
In an emotional interview with ABC, West referred to the tragic news as “one of the worst days of my life.”
Now, there’s an opportunity for the NBA to honour Bryant in a way that would make West proud, especially since the latter was never a big fan of being featured on the league’s logo to begin with.
For Moghtader, this tragedy has presented a new opportunity to pay tribute.
“I felt like for a player of his prestige, it would be an honourable thing for the NBA to do,” the teen told Yahoo Sports Canada.
There are other ways the league could honour Bryant, who sits at No. 4 on the NBA’s all-time points leaders list.
Aside from in-game tributes, the association could also retire Bryant’s No. 24. The Dallas Mavericks have already announced they are doing this, but a league-wide number retirement would be monumental since it’s never been done before.
Some fans are getting behind that idea, as well.
Regardless of how Bryant is recognized, the B.C. teen behind the petition will be appreciative of his greatness.
“I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this petition and made it possible,” Moghtader wrote. “All of this is for Kobe.”