“I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant.” Kobe Bryant has retired after 20 remote seasons in the NBA. The guard straight out of Lower Merion High School is considered by many, the greatest basketball player of all time. He first came into the league in 1996 when he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th overall pick. Later that day they traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers, a decision that would haunt them in the long run.
In his second season with the Lakers, Bryant was voted as a starter for the 1998 All-Star game. Bryant, who was 19 at the time, became the youngest All-Star in NBA history. The next three seasons Bryant would help lead the Laker team, alongside of Shaquille O’Neil, to three consecutive NBA Championships. O’Neil and Bryant are considered amongst most NBA fans as the greatest duo to ever play the game. They did however have disagreements all the time and ultimately, as a result of those disagreements, O’Neil ended up leaving the Lakers. Bryant was soon criticized by experts saying that he couldn’t win another championship without O’Neil. From then on, he was known as the “Black Mamba”.
In 2006, Kobe had an amazing outbreak and scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. The 81 point outburst is the second highest scoring game by a player since Wilt Chamberlain had the 100 point game. From that point on he would take the league by storm. He would now become to most experts as the best player in the world for years. Bryant would go on to win the NBA scoring title the next two years. Two years later, Bryant was named the Most Valuable Player and carried his young Laker team to the NBA Finals. They would eventually lose to the Boston Celtics which Byrant called it his worse and most haunting loss. The 2009-2010 season, Bryant and the Lakers would see success as they won back to back NBA Championships over the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics.
In recent years Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant has hit major setbacks. His first setback came in April of 2013 when he tore his Achilles’ tendon. An injury that most thought he come never come back from. He managed to come back before fracturing his knee cap just six games into the 2013-2014 season. As all great legends do, he overcame the odds and came back to accomplish another great record. In December of 2014, Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan for third all-time on the NBA scoring list. Before the beginning of the 2015-16 season, he announced it will be his last. He told the Players Tribune, “This season is all I have to give. My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind but my body knows it time to say goodbye.” His last game came against the Utah Jazz where he scored 60 points on 50 shots which is a new NBA record for field goal attempts in a single game!
Over his 20 year career Bryant has won 5 NBA titles with the Lakers, an 18 time all-star, 15 time all NBA team, and 12 time all NBA defensive team. There are several reasons why he is considered the greatest of all time, due to many records and many accomplishments that compare him to Michael Jordan. At the end of the day, there will only be one Kobe Bryant. Thank you Kobe for impacting the game of basketball in so many ways. We wish you a happy retirement.