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Tribute to Kobe Bryant

Tribute to Kobe Bryant

December 2nd, 2015
Sports

NBA Legend Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a creative and subtle way in the Players Tribune (which you can read here). Although retirement was inevitable, it marked the end of an era.

The 1996 NBA Draft Class was arguably the greatest in basketball. It featured premier talents such as Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Steve Nash, Ray Allen and a host of other great players. Kobe is the only active player from this draft class. In a career that spanned 20 years he created a lot of memories, and hate him or love him, there is no denial of his greatness. I’d like to dedicate this post to honouring one of the greatest players the league has ever seen.

It is fitting that I start by saying I was never really a Kobe Bryant fan in any sense of the word, but he has earned my respect with his work ethic, competitive drive and always striving to improve. It was truly something to marvel at. I remember being a young 7-year old kid watching Kobe Bryant in the 2001 NBA Finals against my favourite all-time player Allen Iverson. It was exhilarating watching these 2 ultra competitive players clash against one another. Although Iverson lost, as I grew older I gained a greater appreciation for this series. I remember the 2004 NBA Finals when the Lakers were defeated in 5 games to the Detroit Pistons and it marked the end of the Kobe and Shaq era in Laker land. I remember Kobe Bryant going on a scoring tear which included countless 50+ point games, scoring 62 points through 3 quarters against the Dallas Mavericks and scoring 81 points, the second most points scored in NBA history, against the Toronto Raptors.

His 20 year career didn’t come without controversy. He faced legal battles as well as criticisms for his play on the court. He was labelled as ‘selfish’ and not a team player, things I personally considered him to be as well. Who could forget Shaquille O’Neal’s infamous freestyle when the Lakers lost to the Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals? “Last week Kobe couldn’t do without me”.

What Kobe did next was incredible. He won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, bringing his total ring count to 5. After he was called out and told he couldn’t win without Shaq (truthfully, I said this too), he proved everyone wrong. That’s what his career symbolizes. Never giving up, believing in yourself and dedicating your life to the game. Which other player, other than Kobe, would shoot 4 airballs in a playoff game as a rookie? He made and missed countless game winners throughout his career, but that’s what made him special. He was not afraid of the big moments. He was willing to shoot and was more than willing to live and die by it.

He is a fierce competitor and a winner. Although the league is in great hands with great players such as Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis to name a few, it’ll be weird without Kobe come next season. Ever since my childhood I’ve grown accustomed to watching him. Kobe, similar to his peers in the ’96 Draft Class and all the other legends learned, all great things must come to an end.

Thank you for the memories and proving myself and everyone else we were wrong about you. Your work ethic, accomplishments and what you’ve done for the league is truly incredible. Enjoy the next phase in your life.

His resumè includes these notables:

-5 Time NBA Champion
-2 Time NBA Finals MVP
-3rd Most Total Points
-2nd Most Points Scored in a Game (81)
-NBA MVP

kobe

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