THE term legend is thrown around only too often lately , but make no mistake, Kobe Bryant is a legend.
Kobe Bryant may be a true NBA legend
The American shooting guard – who tragically gave up the ghost during a helicopter crash aged 41 – was a five-time NBA champion, an MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 18-time All-Star and even two-time Olympic gold medallist.
But that's merely scratching the surface of a person who has frequently been described as the most complete all-round basketball star within the game’s history.
Pure numbers can’t even remotely describe what Kobe meant to not only basketball, but to the planet .
Dying during a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday, Kobe Bean Bryant will forever be remembered.
The 13th pick within the 1996 draft straight out of highschool , Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history at the time. And nobody could have expected just what he would continue to become.
For 20 years, Kobe – named after the ultra-expensive beef from Japan – wore the gold and purple of the L.A. Lakers.
Through 20 years , Bryant carried the load of leading arguably the most-well-known, most-followed five on the earth – up there with the ny Knicks – almost entirely on his shoulders.
Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history at the time
Clutch game-winners and flying dunks will forever be what he’s best-remembered for… not to mention his win-at-all-costs approach.
Never afraid to require the tough shot, including his iconic fadeaway jumper, Bryant was often dubbed selfish.
“Pass? Just get the rebound!”, many joke even to the present day.
But this was a man who won five NBA titles. The team meant everything to him.
In a sport where players are traded – or prefer to enter representation to earn a couple of extra million dollars – Bryant stuck around at the Lakers for his whole career.
The ultimate one-team superstar. Both of his jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – have deservedly been retired by the Lakers, with Bryant the franchise’s all-time record points scorer.
Who could forget his outrageous 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006? to the present day that mark is that the second-highest tally during a single game behind only fellow former Laker Wilt Chamberlain (100).
His 62 in only three quarters a year earlier is equally well spoken of those days.
Bryant was the winner for the simplest ‘Animated Short Film’ at the 2018 Oscars
The shooting guard was a five-time NBA champion, an MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 18-time All-Star
And then there was his farewell tour of a season in 2016, where arenas across the USA stood, applauded and watched in awe as a real hero of the sport hung up his sneakers.
In fitting manner, Bryant notched 60 points in his final game against the Utah Jazz. One swan song , reminding everyone just what an animal he was.
Nothing can epitomise Bryant’s approach to the sport quite one fateful night in 2013.
During a game against the California Warriors, Bryant’s explosiveness was cruelly ripped faraway from him after he tore his Achilles after being fouled.
But did Bryant leave the court? in fact not. He had two free throws to require . And make, no less.
Those points ultimately made all the difference, because the Lakers beat their California rivals by two points. His two points.
On announcing his decision to retire, Bryant wrote a poem – addressed to basketball – during which he claimed: “I played through the sweat and hurt — not because challenge called me, but because YOU called me.
“I did everything for YOU because that’s what you are doing when someone causes you to feel as alive as you’ve made me feel.”
He retired because the third-highest points scorer in NBA history. Bryant has barely been overtaken, by old on-court rival – and therefore the man he passed the torch onto – LeBron James.
LeBron – battling Bryant and Michael Jordan for the title of the all-time NBA Goat – was lavish in his praise.
Now at the Lakers himself, James said: “He had zero flaws offensively. Zero.
“He was just immortal offensively due to his skill set and his work ethic.”
An outrageously intelligent man, Bryant was fluent in Italian and Spanish – having grown up Italy where his father was knowledgeable hooper too.
Kobe – nicknamed the Mamba during his career – also wrote a series of youngsters books and even won an Oscar for his short film Dear Basketball in 2018.
Bryant, often referred to as a slayer of defenders on the court, had a softer side.
On his newer passions, he said: “To finally have the time to pursue this other side of who i'm , one that inspires me, has been endlessly rewarding.”
His softer, ultra-generous side was well-known after his retirement, with Bryant frequently inviting current NBA stars to his home to coach them up.
Giannis Antetokounmpo famously took him abreast of his offer and months later the “Greek Freak” was the league’s most precious Player.
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