Remembering Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant defined greatness as inspiring the people next to you. Saying that when you inspire someone, they will inspire someone else and the cycle of greatness will continue indefinitely.
The hundreds of players in the NBA now and the millions of fans who watch at home were all inspired by the drive, dedication, focus, and intensity in which Kobe Bryant played the game of basketball. We were inspired by how someone who seemingly devoted his whole life to a game and became the greatest in his sport could still find the time to become an author. We were inspired by how Kobe Bryant could continue to prove that anything is possible by winning an Academy Award after stepping away from the game. Most importantly, we were inspired by how someone with so much on his plate and living such a full life could find the time to be the type of husband and father that we could all look up to.
Kobe Bryant, by his own definition of the word, in all aspects of sports and life, was the epitome of greatness.
- NBA all-rookie team
- Played in 15 all-star games
- All-star game MVP four times
- All-NBA first team eleven times
- All-NBA defensive first team nine times
- Five-time NBA champion
- NBA regular season MVP
- Two-time NBA Finals MVP
- Two-time NBA scoring leader
- Two-time Olympic gold medalist
- 2020 NBA first-ballot Hall Of Famer
Pretty good resume for a 17-year-old kid that decided to bet on himself and skip college to join the NBA right out of Lower Merion High School. Bryant was the 13th pick in the first round of the 1996 NBA draft. Kobe was selected by the Charlotte Hornets, who then traded Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers. (I don’t know for sure, but I’m going to make the assumption that whoever it was that decided to trade Bryant is no longer making decisions for professional basketball teams.)
It didn’t take long for Bryant to make a name for himself, winning the Slam Dunk Contest in 1997 and becoming an NBA All-Star his second year in the league. Over the next few years, Bryant and his Lakers took over basketball, and with the future Hall Of Famer Shaq Diesel by his side, the duo led the Lakers to three consecutive championships between 2000 and 2002.
The two Laker greats split up when Shaq was traded to Miami. Bryant listened closely to the doubters who said he could never win the big one without Shaq. Whoever believed that Bryant couldn’t get this done on his own underestimated the fire and unrelenting work ethic that burned inside of him.
Bryant set out to prove to his doubters what he knew all along. When you practice, focus, and train to be unstoppable, there’s nothing that you can’t accomplish. Bryant led the league in scoring twice over the next few years and by 2009 had reached the highest peak again. The Los Angeles Lakers were world champions for two consecutive seasons in 2009 and 2010.
Bryant continued to play at a high level until injuries began to rob him of the opportunity to continue to shine on the court, playing in just 41 games between the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons. There was never a decline of heart in Bryant’s game, but after a decline in on-court production due to his series of injuries, Kobe decided to hang it up at the age of 34 at the end of the 2015/2016 season.
They say that not one man is bigger than the game, but as we continue to mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant, I can’t say that I fully agree with that. I was born in the early 90s, and throughout my childhood and teenage years, Kobe Bryant was basketball. Our NBA right now is full of players that grew up idolizing Kobe. Whether they liked him or didn’t, everyone found common ground to understand that he was the best. There wasn’t an argument, it wasn’t a discussion, and it was never a question. Plenty to talk about if you want to mow over 2–10 in the era, but the Black Mamba ruled the number one spot looking over the rest of the NBA as the mightiest king in the most powerful kingdom.
The world must now say goodbye to Kobe Bryant as his mind and spirit have left earth, yet the lessons he taught us, the inspiration he provided us with, and the greatness he shared l will live on. With this, Kobe Bryant will live amongst us forever. You don’t need to be a basketball fan to be touched by the lessons he left behind.
If people doubt you, find inspiration in how Kobe was faced with the doubt that he couldn’t win it all on his own. He responded by leading the league in scoring. If you’re not today where you want to be, look at Kobe’s work ethic and follow the path he paved so masterfully. Wake up early, so you have the advantage of getting work in before the common man even gets out of bed. Be the first one in the office and the last to leave. Don’t wish to be great. Live to be great.
My final words to the GOAT, Kobe Bryant
I idolized you as a child, as did many others. My passion for the game of basketball has since faded, but I find the best way I know to respect you is by sharing my opinions of you here. My love for you as a child came simply from what you could do on the court. My love now comes from looking at you as a role model in pursuing my goals and dreams. To wake up early and get after it because of the example you and the few like you have set. To work on my dreams when I’m done working my day job because I understand through your work ethic that dreams aren’t handed to you. They’re earned during early mornings and late nights when the common man is taking it easy.
As I started with, Kobe defined greatness as inspiring the people next to you. Well 24, I’m inspired because of you and those like you. Thanks, Kobe