Remembering Kobe Bryant: Icon and International Sensation

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Words by: Johnnie Buck

Remembering Kobe Bryant. It has officially been two years since the day that left all basketball enthusiasts shook. The day a hero of the hoops became human as the world played witness to the horrifying news that Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi had passed tragically after being victims in a helicopter crash. Social media lit up with the news and many emotions had been stirred around the NBA. An icon of many facets had been lost and the world fell stricken over the grief.

The impact Kobe Bryant held was more than just the game, he was an international sensation.

Kobe’s career in basketball is one that can be broken down in so many ways. He joined the league at the age of 19 and left at the age of 37. With an overall average of 25 points per game in his career, Kobe managed to leave 3rd on the scoring list passing Michael Jordan in 2014. Kobe in his time managed to rack up the accolades as well. Bryant was an 18x all-star and 4x all-star MVP. He was elected an MVP in 2008.

The Legendary Laker was a 5x champion winning from 2000-2002, then again in 2009, and once more in 2010. In two of those championships, he was elected Finals MVP. His electricity on the court was similar to his role model Michael Jordan. Bryant’s on-court accomplishments pushed the league and brought the best out of all players that matched up against him.

Known as Black Mamba, Kobe was noted as one who was intellectually adept, going out his way to learn new languages to be able to converse and sometimes intimidate international players. There were no barriers to his reign. Players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant Steph Curry and more were products of his tenacity. He inspired players on and off the court to have a “Mamba Mentality”, urging players to simply do more.   

Kobe’s legacy is one that fared no boundaries. While climbing the heights of a legendary basketball career, doorways were opened for him to continue his success in other endeavors. Much like his tenacity on the court, his off-court prowess demanded leadership as well. With a combination of his star power, financial support, and overall urge to see growth, Bryant was considered a humanitarian contributing to a number of admirable causes.

The 5x NBA champion used his platform to speak out against the injustices within the world many times. He spoke out against the War in Darfur in 2008, he played an active part in raising money for cancer awareness, and alongside his wife Vanessa, they created the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation to help homeless youths build self-sufficient lives.

Kobe was more than a player, he was a leader in every sense of the word.

Of the many feats that Bryant was most recognized for, one that came as a shock when first announced was the Oscar Award Kobe won for the best animated short film in 2018 for the piece he put together “Dear Basketball”. “Dear Basketball” was an animated film that was based on Kobe’s poem he wrote as he announced his retirement.

Upon winning his Oscar, Kobe was also working on a show titled “Detail” where he provided an in-depth analysis on the players in the game today. By doing so many of the NBA stars of today to his knowledge and soon after he received a wide number of requests from them to train with him in the off-season. Being someone whose world revolved around basketball, Kobe couldn’t stay away from the court for too long, ultimately taking many of the greats today under his wing and assigning them tasks to live up to.

As a player, Kobe will go down in history with his name being cemented in with the greats. In his time in the NBA he was able to accomplish what many players could only dream of. What he did off the court was both courageous and noteworthy.

Kobe believed in growth and the impact you create from what you do, his impact will not be forgotten. His spirit lives on in the players he inspired, the team he represented, and the family left behind. On January 26th, 2020, we lost a legend, but his legacy lives on.       

To celebrate his life, we are looking back on some of his biggest moments. 

February 8, 1997: Bryant wins the 1997 Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie during All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

June 14, 2000: Bryant scores 28 points against the Indiana Pacers in game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals. Bryant would go on to win his first NBA championship in game 5. 

December 19, 2005: Bryant scores 62 points in just 33 minutes at Staple Center against Dallas Mavericks. 

January 22, 2006: Bryant roasted the Toronto Raptors for 81 points at the Staples Center.

March 16, 2007: Bryant finishes up another stellar performance with 65 points against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. 

February 2, 2009: Bryant touches the New York Knicks, scoring 61 points at Madison Square Garden.

June 17, 2010: Bryant closes out the rival Boston Celtics in seven games to win his 5th NBA title with the Lakers.

April 16, 2016: Bryant scores 60 points in his grand finale NBA game at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz.

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