Trash basket in the left-hand corner of the room. 4 seconds on the clock. 3. 2. 1… You release the crumpled up piece of paper in your hand, and as it gracefully ascends to the very top, you shout, “Kobe.”
We all had famous players and celebrities growing up, and while some create more controversy than others, there are always some celebrities that are indisputably great. Kobe Bean Bryant is one of those people. 5 NBA Championships, 2 NBA Finals MVPs, 1 NBA MVP, the 3rd greatest scorer in the history of the NBA, 17-time NBA All-Star, NBA Slam Dunk Champion, and many more. These are only a few of the outstanding achievements that Kobe has reached throughout his long and illustrious 20-year career. However, these are irrelevant when looking at the vast and grand impact that he has had on the game of basketball and the world.
Let’s go all the way back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bryant’s birthplace and the city where he attended high school at Lower Merion. As a freshman, he was on the varsity team, something that hadn’t been done in decades. There, he honed his skills to the point where, in 1996, he declared for the NBA Draft.
Selected as the 13th overall pick for the Charlotte Hornets, Bryant was soon traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as the Hornets felt no need for Bryant in their team. Bryant, thrilled to be able to play for his favorite team in the NBA, was paired up with Shaquille O’Neal on the Lakers, and the two soon began their dominance over the league.
The years from 1999-2002 were the golden years for the Lakers and Kobe. Led by Bryant and O’Neal, the Lakers won 3 back to back to back championships, and Bryant became a very well known player.
Shaq left the Lakers in 2004, leaving Kobe to lead the team himself. After many rough seasons without Shaq and other conflicts and problems off the court, Kobe decided to change his number from 8 to 24.
The change may not have been as significant as many fans believe, but following the number change, Kobe picked up another 2 championships along with one league MVP. Then, on a cold Sunday in November, Kobe announced his retirement through a letter.
We all saw it coming. Everybody knew it was bound to happen. With his old age, the Lakers continued struggles, the vast amount of injuries over such a short period of time, and the pressure from the media, Kobe’s retirement was no surprise. So why did it cause such an uproar and such a great commotion?
It’s because it was Kobe. The man who all the players of the world idolized growing up. The man who dominated the rest and was more confident than the others. The man whose attitude and work ethic got him to where he is, yet his humility and respect allowed him to retain his spot on the throne. The man who wouldn’t back down to anyone, always resilient, and full of energy. It was Kobe Bryant, the legend whose legacy will never die.
Sure, there are haters and there are lovers, but even the haters will agree that Kobe was and is a legend. Because, at the end of the day, when there is only 4 seconds left on the clock, you know you’re gonna be shouting, “Kobe.”
Kobe Bryant Retirement Letter