Banners hung down by sunken faces dotted the 20,000-capacity dome of the Staples Centre, the atmosphere seemed obviously quite different. The air of positivity that was rarely scarce became all of a sudden infected by contagious surreal gazes.
All the fans were left in a shadowy flux, one was in a grisly grief to their deceased legend – Kobe Bryant and his daughter Giana. The whole Los Angeles Lakers team had literally nothing to hold on to as one of their best players in history had surrendered to the colds hands of death in a manner that would not have been previously thought.
Kobe on his own begat a legacy. A legacy that spanned the shores of basketball. A legacy that left his name imprinted on a surface eternally wrapped with the fabrics of glory. Kobe was not just a basketballer, he was a phenomenon that made throwing objects synonymous with his name, an alien that faulted the law of gravity in some instances. In a flash to some decades back, throwing objects up was welcomed by the chants of ‘Bryant’ and that is even in a clime that is even less fixated on basketball.
Players to average 25+ PPG in a single season
LeBron James – 16x
Kobe Bryant – 12x
Michael Jordan – 12x
Karl Malone – 12x
Kevin Durant – 11x
Jerry West – 11x
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 10x
Allen Iverson – 10x
Shaquille O’Neal – 10x
Dominique Wilkins – 10x
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) April 16, 2020
It shows the magnitude of Kobe’s transcending greatness! From his naive yet dazzling display at Lower Merion High School, Philadelphia, Kobe made a short but impacting input in a swift flash. Flagging off an embryonic talent as early as the age of three spells a lot for future of the NBA and expectedly, hindsight affords us the latitude to acknowledge that.
Kobe Bryant’s high school rival said that they could contain him before the game. Kobe’s reaction when finding out is incredible ? pic.twitter.com/O7NHPjUB4V
— Mamba Insider (@Mamba_Insider) April 19, 2020
As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high flyer and a fan favourite by winning the 1997 slam dunk contest and he was named an all-star in his second season. Though with a feud with a teammate in Shaquille O’Neal, the pair led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. After the Lakers lost the 2004 NBA Finals, O’Neal was traded and Bryant became the cornerstone of the Lakers.
He led the NBA in scoring during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons. In 2006, he scored a career-high 81 points, the second-most points scored in a single in league history, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. Bryant led the team to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, and was named MVP on both occasions.
What perhaps made Kobe a colossus was his particular shooting technique. The shots were much more difficult than Bryant made them look. They required his legs to function as a counterbalance while he drifted backwards to get a cleaner look at the rim above or around his defender.
If it was a lesser player, his coach won’t hesitate to yank him away from the game. The threats of Bryant’s jumper made him a handful in the mid-post, an area that has largely been phased out of modern basketball as the NBA has fallen in love with the three-point shot.
Incredible ? Kobe Bryant getting MVP chants in Boston. This is peak Mamba putting up 43 in 2007 and that Celtics crowd was just in awe of the basketball brilliance they witnessed ?? Look at the Lakers broadcast. Commentators in disbelief as a Boston crowd is in a frenzy. #TBE pic.twitter.com/I9qHONztOH
— Ball Don't Stop (@balldontstop) April 15, 2020
Bryant could turn and face up from 15 feet, eyeing his defender, who surely must have felt like the loneliest man in the world. Bryant attempted 10,001 free throws during his career, the most by a perimeter player in NBA history. Bryant was always a threat to detonate with a ferocious finish. He often played with anger; scowling, yelling, biting is jersey and attempting to rip off the rim – so much for the mamba mentality! Kobe literally dominated all facets of basketball. From techniques, work ethics to will power, Kobe left an impact smooth for potential basketballers to follow.
Kobe Bryant had already begun the second phase of his life before passing away. Just like his father routed him through the profundities of the game, Kobe was replicating the same gesture to his daughter Gianna. Gianna had shown keen interest in Basketball in a way similar to her father and hoped to dominate the WNBA just like her father did.
On his way to coach the Mamba team for a match, Kobe who had had flairs for helicopters fell to its flaws and the rest is what dictated a global grief that sent shivers down spines and, echoed the call that our lives hangs on a thread with seeming fragility.
It is a thin line that can be punctuated with an unconceived circumstance in a way that defiles our current or background premonition. It is to this end that Kobe’s mantra appeals a lot.
“If you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear.”
Now that’s ‘mamba mentality’ and it might not be seen for a long time to come, maybe never again.
What was your best memory about Kobe Bryant? Share it in the comments section.
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Photo Credit: Getty Images