An Ode to Mr. Bryant


The definition of the word “Kobe” is a seaport in Honshu, Japan. However, since 1996, “Kobe” has been synonymous with: fierce, competitive, motivation, clutch and polarizing.

As well as being yelled by many a person as they playfully shoot a crumbled piece of paper into an unsuspecting trash can.

In 1996, the Charlotte Hornets drafted a shooting guard out of Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania. The Hornets immediately traded the guard to the Los Angeles Lakers for center Vlade Divac. For the next 20 years, that shooting guard took the NBA by storm and forever changed the game.

Kobe Bryant will not be a Laker next year. What a weird sentence to type. Bryant announced via poem that he would retire at the conclusion of this season last weekend. That Bryant is retiring surprises nobody, but now that it is here, it makes it real.

As a rookie, a brash, cocky and confident Bryant went into his first Slam Dunk Competition and won. Bryant would go onto make 17 All-Star games which is second all-time to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 19.

After winning the Slam Dunk competition, Bryant went onto rewrite modern day NBA history. He reached seven NBA Finals, winning five. He won three consecutive championships paired with dominant center Shaquille O’Neal. He won two with Pau Gasol as his running mate. His latter two finals produced two Finals MVP’s.

Some of things that Bryant did were unjust and unfair. Take 2006 for example.

After missing the playoffs in 2005, Bryant got his former coach Phil Jackson, a man who led him to three titles, back. Bryant loaded up his bazooka and went on an absolute scoring barrage all season.

In December against the Dallas Mavericks, Bryant scored 62 points in the first three quarters. It was the only time in the shot clock era that one player had outscored an entire team after 36 minutes of play.

Then about a month later, Bryant went to Toronto and poured in bucket after bucket after bucket. Bryant torched the poor Toronto Raptors for 81 points in what could be regarded as the greatest shooting performance the NBA has ever seen.

That same month, Bryant became the first player since 1964 to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games. For the month of January, Bryant averaged an absurd 43.4 points per game. The most by any player not named Wilt Chamberlain. For the season, he won the scoring title by averaging 35.4 points, only the fifth time ever. He scored 40 or more a blistering 27 times that year.

Bryant blended an interesting combo of fineness, ferociousness, grace and grit. His signature turn-around fade-away that he adopted from Michael Jordan was poetry in motion.

He was as graceful of a jump shooter as there was. He knew how to take it to the rim, too.

Bryant will forever be regarded as one of the most clutch players of all time, even though the numbers don’t necessarily back it up. Part of being clutch is the will to take the shots that others are to afraid to take. Bryant would take the game-winning shot from anywhere on the court. His confidence was never shaken. Thirty-six times, Bryant made the final field goal of the game to give the Lakers a win.

Thirty-six game winners for a kid from Philadelphia.

There’s something to be said about Bryant’s tenure with the Lakers. He spent 20 seasons donning the purple and gold. That’s the most years spent with one team by anyone who ever played basketball.

The last four years for Bryant have been forgettable, to say the least, but after a few years, they will be forgotten. Most people don’t immediately think about Jordan’s Wizard days or Joe Montana’s Chief days. Bryant will be remembered for what he was. One of the greatest NBA players to ever lace them up.

This is the end of an era.

Thank you, Mr. Bryant, for always being you. The NBA will never be the same without you.

Somewhere, college students are writing their final thesis paper tonight, and they realized that they don’t like this draft. With a crumple, the thesis has transformed into a ball. The student turns towards the trash can and lines up the shot. With a flick of the wrist the paper ball has traveled through air and found its home at the bottom of the can. All the student can do is say one thing:


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