I started playing basketball the year Kobe Bryant joined the Lakers. 20 years later, Kobe is retiring at the end of this season, and I’m very sad. He has given me so much joy, been watching games and highlights of his for 20 years… Like Messi in soccer and Federer in tennis, I’m grateful that I’ve seen all of Kobe’s career in basketball.
Kobe is the best player I’ve seen (didn’t see MJ’s peak) with one of the biggest hearts, in my opinion the most skilled offensive player of all time (with the least impressive body among all the greats), and probably the biggest hard-worker of all time.
I will always remember your 81-point game. Your two last-second 3-pointers against the Blazers to tie in regulation and win it in overtime. Your 62 points in three quarters against Dallas when they scored 61 as a team. Your 12 3-pointers against Seattle. Your three 3-pointers against the Raptors to send it to overtime, where you won it with a last-play dunk. Your streak of +50 and +40-point games. Your 35.4 scoring average. Your crazy dunks, layups and shots. Your part in the best NBA-duo of all time with Shaquille O’neal. Staying with the Lakers after your first three championships, and seven years later winning two more with an entire new roster. Rupturing your achilles and walking back to the free-throw line, making both shots, and walking out of the game to check the injury (which to me marked the end of his career, not the last 2 years riddled with injuries).
5-time champion. 2-time Olympic champion. MVP. 2-time Finals MVP. Most All-NBA First Team and Most NBA All-Defensive Team selections in history. Countless All-Stars. Dunk champion. Most 3-pointers in one game (12) and second highest scoring in one game (81). Most game-winners in history (36). Only player in history with +30,000 points, +6,000 assists and +6,000 rebounds.
Like Tim Grover (MJ, Kobe’s and D-Wade’s personal trainer) would say: you were a Cleaner. Thank you, Kobe. So, so much. I have more than enough highlights to remember you by.