“My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye”- Kobe Bryant.
It’s game 5 of the 1997 Western Conference Semifinals. With 10 seconds remaining in the fourth, the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz are knotted at 89. With a chance to take full control of the series, the Lakers put their trust in an 18-year old rookie from Lower Merion High School to take the potential game winning shot.
Unfortunately, it ended in disaster. The Kid shot an air ball to send the game into overtime, and later shot three more air balls at the most crucial moments of overtime. Who would have thought, that same kid who ended his rookie season in embarrassment would go on to become one of the greatest players in NBA history.
“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 do. When someone makes you feel as. Alive as you’ve made me feel.” – Bryant
Although Bryant has expresses his excitement about life after basketball, many fans like myself are sad to know this is the final curtain call for the Black Mamba.
Throughout his legendary career, Bryant has dazzled basketball fans around the world. No matter if it was his astonishing dunks, or heartbreaking game winners that left us in awe, no one can deny the greatness of Kobe Bryant.
During the late 90s and all the 2000’s, Bryant was the closest player we may ever have witnessed to rival the great Michael Jordan. Despite the last two seasons, Bryant has left plenty of memories for the next generation of basketball fans:
- Became the youngest player to win the slam dunk competition
- Demolished the Mavericks in three-quarter for 63 points
- Torched the Raptors for 81 a few weeks later
- Scored fifty or more points in four consecutive games
- Scored 13 fourth quarter points as Team USA defeated Spain in the gold medal game in 2008
Only Wilt Chamberlain and Jordan have more 40 or more point games than Bryant who has 97 in his career. And, he is the only player in history to score over 30,000 points and hand out over 6,000 assists.
However, of all his great memories, Bryant’s best moment that solidified his career came on April 12, 2013 against the Golden State Warriors. After he suffered an Achilles injury, Bryant hit two free throws before walking off the court on his own.
Although the injury was heartbreaking to watch, it showed the love and dedication Bryant had for not only his team, but for the game of basketball. It was a testimony of how hard this guy fought throughout his entire career.
Love him or hate him, basketball fans should show their appreciate to Bryant’s greatness in the last 66 games of his career.
A five-time NBA champion, 17 NBA All-Star selections, two-time scoring champ, 2008 MVP, four-time All-Star game MVP, 11-time All-NBA First team selections, nine-time All-Defensive Team, third all-time in scoring, and a work ethic out of this world, I am happy to say I have witnessed one of the greatest careers in pro sports.
I know a lot of you will not agree with this statement, but in my eyes Kobe Bryant is the greatest player that ever played.
The Legacy he is leaving behind will never be forgotten, and the league will never be the same. Enjoy retirement Kobe, and thank you for all the memories!
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