I remember about 3 years ago, on my honeymoon my wife and I were watching the Lakers play the Brooklyn Nets. In the game Kobe hurt his ankle bad and hobbled out of the game. I thought wow Kobe is something else, but that injury did not look good. Low and behold that was the beginning of the end. I mean no player can play forever, doesn’t matter how many times you wrap up your fingers or go for experimental treatment in Germany. I feel if there was a way for Kobe Bean Bryant to play basketball forever he would take it in a heartbeat. I felt after that injury Kobe would just call it quits, but we knew that competitive fire in him wouldn’t go out on an injury. He would go until his feet fell off. I was surprised to see him sign on for 2 more years and then it hit me. He just wants to do 20 years as a Laker and if he can get that elusive sixth ring. Well he got 20 years but he didn’t get that sixth ring. But in 20 years Kobe became an NBA Legend.
Growing up it was always about two teams with my family The New York Knicks cause my mom loved Patrick Ewing and the city of New York and The Los Angeles Lakers because of Magic and Showtime. I always thought the Lakers were a dope team at first simply because to me they had the better jersey. Then Michael and the Bulls showed up, Shaq was breaking rims, the Knicks were just the coolest thing team ever and then the Raptors showed up in Toronto. I had paid attention to NBA but not super in depth until the Raptors came to town and I started to really pay attention to basketball outside of the Bulls, Lakers, Knicks and Magic.
Then the 96 draft happened and I happened to watch the draft just cause I wanted to see who the Raptors were going to pick (Marcus Camby) and then I remember they had this whole thing on Kobe. How he was coming straight out of High School, knew Italian, and was taking Brandy to his Prom. I thought this guy is the coolest player ever. Mind you this draft also had Steve Nash and Allen Iverson. But to 14 year old me Kobe was the shit, he went into the NBA right out of high school!! I just graduated grade 8 I thought it was nuts. Don’t worry I didn’t go try to shoot jump shots and go to the NBA right out of high school. I suck at playing ball. I just thought it was cool, then they announce he’s going to the Lakers even better, the Lakers have the cool jerseys. Later on they got Shaq even better. I’m going to follow them when the season starts. I’d have to say at the time after Dennis Rodman, Kobe was one of my favorite players. I remember him having the dope adidas shoes and just dunking all the time. At the time the Lakers were Shaqs team but Kobe was still around. I do remember watching NBA All-Star Saturday night at my cousins when he won the dunk competition. That was the start of the awards.
Man Kobe wasn’t perfect at first but once he got rolling he was unstoppable and with Shaq leading the team and Phil Jackson coaching it was what we thought a match made in heaven. To me they became the 2000s version the Bulls with some of the best playoff games ever. To me Kobe was probably the second coming of MJ. I used to just wait for Kobe to come in during the 4th and just go off. Kobe was definitely my favorite Laker. I had his Jersey, never got the adidas kicks at the time, I thought they were ugly. So did he and he bounced over to Nike, I picked up 2K4’s which should have been the Kobe 1 at the time. I’ve bought almost every magazine cover, watched interviews and documentaries. I wish I said I’ve seen or bought everything but I haven’t. I’ve had countless debates on why he doesn’t suck with countless people my wife included. I’m a fan of the guy. I was truly disappointed with the rape charge he had in Utah, it sucks when someone you admire and look up to can sink so low and be accused or something so horrible. As a player Kobe fought through many struggles and came out a better person on and off the court.
So of course when this season was about to start, I had a feeling it was going to be his last. I mean the Lakers are just terrible and there is just no way Kobe can get a ring. His best years are behind him. 20 years is still an amazing accomplishment, I mean look at the draft class he was in Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, and Ray Allen had great careers but not like Kobe, the all-star appearances, 5 rings, 81 points in a game. This guy did it all. I’m happy to say I got to see his amazing career the highs and lows from start to finish.