On Sunday, Kobe Bryant his first visit to Seattle since the Supersonics left six years ago. Unfortunately (for basketball fans), his return came on the baseball diamond rather than the hardwood (more on that in a second), as he was biggest star of Richard Sherman’s second annual charity softball game at Safeco Field. Kobe participated in a pre-game home run derby, but failed to go yard, while Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas launched a barrage of impressive shots. Wilson technically “won”, effortlessly lapping the field — a few landed in the Mariners’ bullpen — but Thomas was handed the winner’s plaque due to Wilson being drafted by a major league baseball team and disqualifying himself.
When the actual game commenced, Sherman kicked things off with a first-pitch home run. Kobe was the next man up and, as someone who won’t be outdone, promptly launched his own first-pitch home run. After the game, Los Angeles Clippers sixth man Jamal Crawford, who hadn’t participated in the softball game but did attend, hustled up to the campus at Seattle Pacific University, to play in his Seattle Pro-Am basketball tournament (formerly Jamal Crawford Pro-Am). The buzz in the crowd centered on Kobe making an appearance, which did happen, although he didn’t play. He sat in the stands for the first quarter and the beginning of the second, before nearly causing a riot by merely getting up and walking out of the gym. Most of the dejected crowd — nearly a full house — slowly trickled out the door once Kobe left.
Kobe did make up for the early exit with the following comment to the media: “I’ve always enjoyed coming here. I’d much rather come here in the postseason than Oklahoma”. However, the folks who did stick around were rewarded with a game-winning deep three from Crawford as time expired.