KOBE BRYANT: HOW HE CHANGED THE MINDS AND HEARTS OF HIS GENERATION, AND THE NEXT
I am still beyond devastated while I write this piece. Kobe Bryant, age 41, passed away with his 13 year old daughter Gianna. Bryant’s Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California.
Kobe Bryant is among the NBA 1996 Draft Class. It is one the most stacked draft of rookies which include Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury, Marcus Camby, Steve Nash and Sharif Abdur-Rahim. Coming straight out from High School, the Black Mamba immediately gained popularity as one of the best players in the league. He won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest the following year. I remember when I use to have an Adidas t-shirt bearing his photo that I wear like, three to four times a week (he’s with Adidas prior to joining Nike). I was fourteen years old, and man, most ballers in our town at my age at the time were trying to do his moves on the courts. I remember yelling “BRYANT!” every time I made a shot. To me, a basketball enthusiast, a profound lover of the game, and most of all, a nineties kid, the Iverson-Bryant era is simply unmatched.
Early in his career, Kobe was believed to be the next Michael Jordan. But he was great on his own that he has managed to make a name of himself. Although there were many similarities in their game, Kobe has proven that skills is never enough. His work etiquette and dedication to the game of basketball is beyond great.
He was a great basketball player both in offense and defense. A good passer, too. He would make his teammates involved in every game. A true floor leader. Even at young age.
We have witnessed his ups and downs as a player, and yes, even as a person. But he was a warrior on all aspects. He proved himself ultimately when he won back to back championships without Shaquille O’neal in 2009-2010, winning NBA Finals MVPs on the process.
Kobe Bryant was one of the most competitive to ever step foot on a basketball court. His duels against his contemporaries like Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady and Carmelo Anthony to name a few were as remarkable as Michael Jordan’s duels against Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins and Charles Barkley.
This is why I am quite pissed every time I hear or see some people slandering his name and legacy in favor of Lebron James. No disrepespect to Lebron, but again, as a nineties kid who spent my teen years watching the Black Mamba in his prime, I would choose Kobe against LBJ any day in this lifetime.
It’s not just the physical strength and skills, his mindset of winning and impeccable knowledge of the game are the penultimate reasons why he is on millions of basketball fans’ top five.
Honestly, I was deeply frustrated in the 2001 NBA Finals. I wanted Allen Iverson to win the chip, but hell, Kobe Bryant’s dominance (along with Shaq) was unmatched in 2000-2002 era. And as a baller and fan, I would never deny greatness when I see it. And yes, in 2001, Kobe Bryant played like Jesus Christ the whole season.
Kobe Bryant is arguably the most complete basketball player in the history of the sport. Period.
(Kobe Bryant with daughter Gianna)
Many of us thought of one specific thing every time we watched a game when, a player/team would win a game despite of being down 5-10 points in the final minutes before the game ends. Mamba Mentality. A phrase that is so powerful, every player would think of it every time someone needs to uplift himself to win a game. That’s Kobe Bryant. No one else.
Kobe Bryant pushed hundreds of players to their absolute best. If you will play against Kobe, you have to unleash your everything. If you are fortunate to play with him, same thing. He never bowed down to anyone. And he never lost his power to refuse to lose.
Obviously, I didn’t know him personally. We have never met. But base on what the other players and celebrities say about him, he was genuinely good of a person. And I believe them.
Kobe Bryant’s legacy extends outside the basketball court. He has contributed his wisdom by writing a book titled “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play”, and he earned an Academy Award for his short film “Dear Basketball” , where he beautifully narrated his letter/poem of the same name. Yes. He was indeed, a poet. That’s why I loved him even more.
And now that he’s gone, his words, his messages, his teachings will reach even more farther to touch lives.
KOBE BRYANT is a 5-time NBA Champion, 2 time NBA Finals MVP, 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist and NBA MVP.
He was a great father, husband and a worthy friend to many.
He is a LEGEND. And he would never leave our minds and hearts.
Rest in peace. And most of all, THANK YOU!