Kobe’s greatness transcended the game of basketball. Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Kevin Durant, Eric Koston, Lionel Messi, Lebron James and Roger Federer — athletes who were all inspired, captivated, motivated and determined because of one Kobe Bryant.
April 13 was the last game Kobe Bryant ever played in the NBA, and in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey. Why does this matter? Why the sold-out home and away arenas? What did this man do to deserve standing ovations at all twenty-nine road venues? Why the gifts? I’ll tell you why: Respect.
Kobe Bryant played 20 seasons in the NBA. His accolades range from Most Valuable Player, to scoring champion, to NBA champion and 3rd on the all-time points scored list. But most importantly, he was what we all wish to be: the ultimate professional. He trained harder than any of his teammates. He stayed late in the gym getting his shot up. He studied films of those respected greats that came before him. That is why he is respected.
This man not only played the game of basketball, he studied it. He borrowed and stole moves from Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Julius Erving and many more NBA Hall of Famers. And he admitted he stole these moves. In his eyes, they were the best to play the game and they are all champions. If they played that way and won, then why couldn’t he play that same way and win?
Kobe is now done with his last season. He played his last game, and will finally hang up his jersey. In every game he played for his 20th and final season, he was welcomed in the arenas that once cursed his name.
He was given gifts by players who admired him before they made it to the NBA. He was definitely sent off in a fashion those in the NBA can only hope and dream for.
I respect Kobe Bryant. He showed me that perseverance, hard work and determination either leads to failure or success. He showed me that you have to be willing to accept failure and success, because without one, the other can never be obtained. I will never forget the moments when we won the championships. Because his love of the game bled out into our city, it was not only 11 guys winning, it was a whole city. And that’s what Kobe did best. He brought us together; that’s what great players do.
I thank you Kobe Bryant, for your loyalty and the love you have shown Los Angeles, the game of basketball and fans all around the world. I may shed a tear for you, but you are a legend, and legends are never forgotten.