“Heroes get remembered but legends never die,” so the story goes in the triumphant ending of The Sandlot. Sports and heroism fuse together as Benny risks it all to retrieve that Babe Ruth signed baseball from the irritable dog known as the ‘Beast.’ Does Benny ultimately become a legend after successfully outsmarting the beast dog? In the world of 12 year old boys spending summers in a dusty baseball diamond, yes. The legacy of Benny Rodriguez will remain the talk of the baseball diamond for future generations and it won’t be about how he made it to the majors rather, how he took a risk that summer and saved the skin of his best friend, Smalls.
Why can’t every athlete have some sort of legacy like that…..and don’t for a second say that Kobe does!
The last few weeks leading up to “Mamba’s” retirement has been a whirlwind in the marketing sphere. One of the greatest basketball players was about to play his final game and leave behind shoes that even Lebron may find hard to fill. We’ve seen it before- black and white video montages, commemorative jerseys and athletes across all sports showing their love and appreciation for the one, the only, the legendary, Kobe Bryant. But really, what is his legacy?
I seem to recall a press conference years ago hosted by Bryant and his wife; a very strategic PR move to downplay a serious sex scandal that the all-star Laker was involved in. A moment in time where fans and endorsers took pause in the investment they had in their basketball hero but it didn’t last long. As the lines of the controversial events got blurry, Bryant continued to play, win back his endorsements and lay crucial groundwork for a long lasting legacy in the sport. Sounds like Tiger Wood’s team took great notes if you ask me!
Kobe Bryant is not and will not be the only athlete with some controversy – Tiger Woods, Adrian Peterson, Bret Favre, Ray Lewis are a few that seem to come to mind. The interesting thing is though, they all have recovered quite nicely as their dominance in their respected sports has become the saving grace for their bad reputation.
The more and more this seems to happen, the more clear it is that an athletes legacy can come with scandal and controversy as long as they produce significantly. Remember when Tiger had a list 0f 17 women he was unfaithful with? Now the ‘buzz’ story is that he may have to retire early due to back pain. We are talking about the same guy, right?!
Heroes get remembered but legends never die. Where is Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriguez when we need him?