Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest men to ever touch a basketball, died yesterday when his helicopter crashed at around 9:40 A.M (Pacific Standard Time). With him in the helicopter were nine people, including his daughter, Gianna, and Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli.
Only hours before his death, Lebron James, small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, had passed Kobe for third place in the all-time NBA scoring record. Kobe had tweeted out a congratulatory message to his “brother”, welcoming him to the new spot. This would be the last tweet he would make.
There, now you know the news. When I first heard, I almost cried. Kobe Bryant, living legend, dead? Impossible. The man that I, a basketball player in kind, modeled both my jump shot and fadeaway off, killed in a crash? Unbelievable.
Even now, my heart grieves the loss of Kobe. I can’t believe he is gone, it’s almost like a piece of me is missing. My very soul seems crushed.
Kobe was more than a man, he was a legacy. Appearing in the NBA towards the end of Michael Jordan’s career, he received the “passing of the torch”, so to speak, from Jordan, and would go on to become the greatest player of his generation.
He helped shape the modern NBA as it is now, proving to the world how deadly a fadeaway shot could be. Considered the second-greatest shooting guard of all time, behind the aforementioned Michael Jordan, he is always included in a discussion of the NBA’s greatest all-time players, and usually ranks within the top 5. In his twenty seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, he won five championships and currently holds the record of the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He and his teammate Shaquille O’Neal are widely regarded as the third-greatest duo of all time, winning three consecutive championships together.
Because of his unique style and dangerous shot, Kobe’s legacy even extended into trick shots. Today, when someone throws a ball of trash into a garbage can, someone usually yells, “Kobe”, paying tribute to his clutch, game-winning shots. When a crazy “basketball” shot is made, Kobe is the player to come to mind.
His legacy, however, goes even further beyond his influence within the game. He was also known as a musician, philanthropist, business man, and author, publishing the best-selling book The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. Countless fans and athletes alike have bought his shoes or watched his commercials, further cementing him as one of the most influential men on the planet.
His legacy as a hero extends further than the basketball court or the world of business. He was known as a father and coach to his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who also died in the crash. He was closely involved in her games and personally trained her for a long period of time. The crash happened as he flew his daughter into Los Angeles for a basketball tournament, showing his last action to be one of love for his daughter.
Kobe’s legacy as a cultural icon was perfectly described on CNN by author LZ Granderson, who writes:
He wasn’t simply an NBA legend, he was a cultural icon. Legends are honored for what they’ve accomplished. Icons continually set the bar for what is possible. They don’t spend much time celebrating yesterday, for tomorrow continues to sing their name. That’s not to pit one historical footprint above another, but rather illuminate why Bryant’s death leaves a unique hole in our hearts. Sure his ESPN series “Detail” — which looked at the X’s and O’s of the game — was fascinating but did you know he also created a children’s book series, because of his affinity for the Harry Potter books, that became a New York Times bestseller? When I was a basketball editor at ESPN The Magazine, we pitched Bryant as a cover idea marking the return of Phil Jackson as the Lakers’ head coach. He countered with another idea, one that blended his face with Jackson’s, and you know what? His idea, unsurprisingly, was better.
Kobe Bryant had big plans. He was interested in music. He was into fashion. He didn’t bat a thousand but he was never afraid to step up to the plate. That was the “Mamba-mentality” that he famously coined — a reference to his nickname — and regularly spoke about. He continued to build on it, from his book “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” to the Mamba Sports Academy, the training facility for professional and amateur athletes he co founded in 2018. “Mamba mentality” has become a modern-day “carpe diem,” and the author of that phrase seized everyday with relentless vigor.LZ Granderson
Finally, Kobe’s legacy extended here, to Africa. He is known throughout the country, from my community-New Hope Uganda- to my basketball team. Even Onesimus, my friend and teammate, knows who Kobe is, despite the fact that he has no social media or internet presence- he knows him by name and legacy.
Kobe was known by everybody, from Japan to Brazil, as a living legend. He was a hero, a man that defied critics and proved to the world that a 6’4, 18-year-old teenager could join the NBA and pave his own way to legendary status. His friends, teammates, family, and fans all know him as a good man, a man of conviction and strength.
Kobe Bryant: father, husband, brother, son, NBA legend, businessman, philanthropist, author, coach, icon-legend. We miss you, Kobe.
Kobe Bryant: father, husband, brother, son, NBA legend, businessman, philanthropist, author, coach, icon-legend. We miss you, Kobe.Tweet
Alright, that’s all for today. As much as I am grieved by Kobe’s passing, I would love to hear your thoughts on him and his lifetime. Tell me in the comment section below whether you believe he was better than Lebron James. Until then, thanks so much for reading! I really appreciate your support. If you liked this post, make sure to click that Follow button below (or to the side), so as to not miss out on any new posts. Thanks again, and I hope you have a fantastic day.
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Granderson, LZ. “An NBA legend who was also a cultural icon: Kobe Bryant”. CNN News, 2020.
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