I was born in 1999, 3 years after Kobe’s rookie year. Before I knew anything about basketball, I had a love for him. He won his first title in the 1999-00 season. From then on I was hooked with showtime.
At five, what Kobe did on the court, I would practice on my NERF basketball door hoop. Every night, I watched Kobe on ESPN before I fell asleep. My dad (a Lakers fan) would sit there and tell me how amazing he was. Me (not a Lakers fan) would “hate” on Kobe because every year he beat my team, but he was still my favorite player. His five titles and two finals MVP awards, along with one league MVP and 18 all-star appearances is Hall of Fame worthy.
Kobe didn’t even go to college, coming right out of Lower Merion High School. He was the youngest NBA player to play in a regular season game, at the young age of 18. Now at age 37 after a torn rotator cuff, and torn Achilles Kobe is retiring. A true ambassador of the game to the world, the man that jumped over a pool of mambas and came straight from high school to the NBA, closes the book on his career.
Last night was Kobe’s final game. An emotional day for Laker fans, and former teammates of the Mamba. I have never ever met the man and probably never will, but I became just as emotional from my couch. I spent all day talking about him, his shoes, how much I want to be him, and saying his name every time I took a shot. I even took a selfie with my friend, both holding a pair of our Kobe’s. It wasn’t Wednesday yesterday, it was Mamba-day.
The man didn’t back down from a challenge even with all of America who hate the Golden State watching the game. He went off for a memorable night in his last hoorah. Kobe scored 60 points, including a comeback to defeat that was lead by the 20 year vet. This night is a record for most points scored in a player’s final game. The man scored 21 in the first half, and scored 39 in second- that is outrageous. He hit the shot that made it a one point game, the go ahead shot off the ball screen, and the sealing free throws to take down the Jazz.
Seeing Kobe walk off for the final time made me tear up, and left me feeling empty. I spent the rest of the night watching vintage Kobe highlights and reminiscing about his career. Kobe wasn’t just on the Lakers, he is the Lakers. With five titles in his 20 year career, a dunk contest champ, a 12 time all defensive team; he is the definition of the GOAT (Greatest of all Time).
Kobe is my childhood, he is in most of my basketball memories. I love Kobe, he had a wonderful career and an amazing run. Kobe Bryant, the black mamba, the GOAT, the ultimate Laker, the ultimate player.
25.0 points per game for his career
5 time NBA champion
2 time finals MVP
1 league MVP
18 time NBA all-star
4 time all-star MVP
11 time first team all NBA
2 time NBA second team
2 time NBA third team
9 time NBA first team all-defensive
3 time NBA second team all defense
2 time NBA scoring champ
1997 NBA Slam dunk champ
NBA all-rookie team
LA Lakers all-time leading scorer
Naismith Prep Player of the Year
33,643 points for his career (3rd in NBA history)
2 time Olympic gold medalist.
By Kenny Johnson
I hate Kobe Bryant. Sure his last game was a new brand of epic and everyone is still buzzing, but that won’t erase his years of despicableness. I hate the way he put himself above his team, and the way he helped run Shaq and Dwight Howard out of L.A. The way the Lakers gave him $25 mil a year to hobble up-and-down the court while shooting 6% from field. I hate the way he’s put on a pedestal by Lakers’ fans.
He’s an over-glorified, self-obsessed jerk, but I respect parts of his legacy. The man competes, he shows up every game with the expectation to win. He relishes the big moment and has no fear of taking the final shot. You always know the level of play he’s going to bring. As a competitor, he’s legit. As a person, he’s awful.
He cheated on his wife and got a pass for it because he bought her a ring and got a tattoo. He was accused of rape and the victim was blamed for being a “fame hungry teenager.” He called an NBA official a gay slur and got a pass because he was “emotional.”
The man could commit murder and Lakers fans would cry self-defense. He practically got away with murder when he signed a 2-year, $50m contract with L.A. coming off of an achilles injury, effectively crippling the team financially and sending them to the gutter. It’s no coincidence that Kobe’s farewell season was also the Lakers worst season ever.
His competitiveness is unmatched in today’s NBA though, no other superstar wants to win as much as Kobe does. The man was drafted into the NBA at 17 years old and started his career on the most storied franchise in NBA history. He was put under immense pressure from the start, but he channeled all the criticism and hate and used it to fuel his game.
He was already one of the best, but he insisted on starting his pre-game routine four hours before the game. From putting up 800 shots at 4 a.m. to going all out at practice with a broken hand, he was never outworked.
Kobe is a baller, but he’s still severely overrated. Why is it that one of the “greats” never shot higher than 47% from the field or 38% from three? Why is it that he only has one MVP? Why does he only have the Finals MVP from 2 of his 5 championships? And how on earth does he have the most missed shots in NBA history despite not even being in the top 10 in games played? Because Kobe is an over-glorified shot-chucker.
Kobe has been babied his entire career by the Lakers, who consistently provided him with elite big men to clean up all of his misses and carry him when he’s cold. The seasons he had to lead a team without Shaq or Pau gave us a glimpse of Kobe’s true potential: big scoring numbers with a missed playoffs and two first-round exits.
There are a lot of reasons to love him, but even more reasons to hate him.
14,431 missed field goals (1st in NBA history)
4,010 turnovers (3rd all-time)
29.7% FG in the clutch in the regular season
25% FG in the clutch in the playoffs
41% FG in the NBA Finals
Most missed game winners in NBA history
1 Alleged rape