News of Kobe Bryant’s Death Jarring, Was Definitive Basketball Player of a Generation
By Chris Bonanno // January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant was 18-time NBA All-Star
Kobe Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others were killed Sunday when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed and burst into flames in Calabasas, California
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Kobe Bryant was the definitive basketball player of a generation.
The news of his passing in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday hit me and countless others hard as it became reported on Sunday afternoon.
Bryant seemed larger than life at times during his astounding 20-year playing career, all of which came with the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s perhaps one of the reasons his passing is so difficult to process.
The stats and accomplishments are impressive enough: In addition to being a five-time NBA champion, according to basketballreference.com, Bryant was incredibly an 18-time All-Star and made the NBA’s defensive team 12 times.
Bryant was the 2007-2008 regular season MVP and won two finals MVP awards. He currently sits fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, having only been passed for third on Saturday by current Laker LeBron James.
But really what stands out about Kobe is the way he went about indelibly leaving a legacy that will last forever.
Whether it was upstaging the NFL’s Championship Sunday by scoring an incredible 81 points against Toronto or throwing a picture-perfect lob pass to teammate Shaquille O’Neal in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals to help open a dynasty or scoring 60 points against Utah in the final game of his career, Bryant always seemed to have a flair for the dramatic.
He was the face of the NBA for a period, particularly in the 2000s and early 2010s. Although Kobe played on a team that was storied in a big market in the Lakers, viewers turned in in droves to see him more than anything.
Anytime Kobe Bryant took the court, you knew something special could happen. And that’s why we watched.
I was in high school when Bryant truly rose to prominence in the NBA and I can’t begin to tell you how many of us played and shot envisioning doing something similar to what Bryant did. Whether it was his patented post-up fade, his seemingly effortless glides to the basket or his tremendous defense, there was plenty that young players wanted to emulate.
Who knows how many Bryant inspired to play basketball, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that the game and sports in general are better for his presence.
His intensity and dedication to his craft were legendary. I literally can’t think of a person – athlete or otherwise – that was more determined to be the best at what he did than Bryant.
And he was absolutely successful, making the most out of what was a tremendous amount of natural talent.
Still, it was more than just his skill on the court that drew us to him. It was his large, high-wattage smile and talented he seemed to be overall – not just as an athlete – that put him on a pedestal with Bryant seemingly having a great deal success since his retirement in 2016 with off-the-court pursuits.
Bryant is without question one of the ten best basketball players ever, and he’s very probably in the top five. That he’s constantly involved in conversations relative to Michael Jordan and LeBron truly says it all.
Kobe Bryant and the others who were killed in the helicopter crash left the world far too soon.
May they rest in peace.
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