There are few people in the sports world that had as big of an impact on everyone as Kobe Bryant did. Kobe was not loved by all, but I bet, deep down inside, he was respected by almost every player, coach, fan, and person in the world. Personally, I did not really get into watching NBA basketball until Kobe retired, but regardless, hearing the news of his passing and the passing of his daughter, Gianna, on January 26th left me deeply saddened and in denial that the tragic news was true. It was hard to believe that Kobe Bryant was gone. Kobe was a great basketball player, but also was a great father, leader, competitor, and person. I want to take this time on what would have been Kobes 42nd birthday to appreciate his greatness and his everlasting impression on basketball and on the world.
I was recently watching videos of Kobes high school teammates telling stories about him in high school, and I found this one clip that shows just how legendary Kobe was even as a high schooler.
Following a loss in the postseason in Kobe’s Junior year, he wrote a note in his teammate’s yearbook who was a Senior, stating, “I’m sorry that we didn’t go further this year, I should have taken the game over from the giddy-up.” In addition, in Kobe’s senior year, the night before the state championship game, he called his former teammates who graduated the year prior and said something along the lines of, “This one is for you.” This is the stuff of legends.
I could go on for pages and pages writing about all the legendary stuff Kobe did. Instead, I am going to highlight some of Kobes greatest accomplishments and things that make Kobe Kobe.
Kobe won five championships, two finals MVP’s, one league MVP, four All-Star game MVP’s, two scoring titles, was selected to 18 All-Star games, 15 All-NBA teams, 12 All-Defensive teams, an All-Rookie team, and played 20 seasons with one organization, the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe was a loyal player and gave the Lakers organization everything that he had. Kobe was a monster when he stepped on the court. He was such a dedicated person and created the Mamba Mentality. The Mamba Mentality is the mentality to keep working and keep pushing. It embodies the belief to never be satisfied and give what you are doing everything you have. The Mamba Mentality isn’t just for athletes, it is for anyone no matter what you are doing. Kobe embodied hard work and dedication.
Kobe has the second-most points scored in a single NBA game of all time, scoring 81 points versus the Toronto Raptors.
The person who always gets the heat for getting 81 points dropped on his head is Jalen Rose. Years down the line, a commercial came out featuring Kobe and Jalen, and it almost never fails to put a smile on my face when I see it on social media.
Kobe was one of the clutchest players in NBA history. During his 20 year career, Kobe hit many, many game-winners and was always there to take that final shot.
Kobe gave basketball all he had, even when he was exiting his prime. He fought through injuries and still gave the game everything. In his final game, Kobe gave everyone one last legendary performance, scoring 60 points. A few weeks prior to the game, Shaq asked Kobe to score 50 for him, and he did that and then some.
Early this morning, I was going through Instagram, and I saw a post by Adrian Wojnarowski about Kobe Bryant and imagining what it would be like if he was in the NBA bubble in Orlando. One thing that Adrian Wojnarowski said that really stuck out to me was, “As he walked among them, Kobe would be gaining a mental edge on his competitors.” This quote shows the kind of competitor Kobe Bryant was. No matter the situation, he would try to find a way to give himself an advantage amongst players for the upcoming times when they would play even when they were off the court.
Shoutout to Kobe for these legendary clips!
Happy Birthday, Kobe Bryant! Although you are not here with us, your legacy will live on forever! May you and Gianna rest in peace!