NBA legend Kobe Bryant died on Jan. 26 in a shocking helicopter crash in California. It’s hard to believe that the Lakers superstar of 20 years was taken from us all too soon after such a freak accident. Bryant made an impact on the NBA, as well as on everyone who knew him, or watched him play on TV. After the news of his passing broke, one could not help but reflect on his time as a player.
“Kobe,” as we all knew him, was a five time MVP who carried the Lakers to a total of five league championships in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2010. Bryant was one of the greatest scorers of all time, coming in at number four with just over 33,000 points. Statistically, Bryant isn’t the greatest to play basketball. But unlike LeBron James and Michael Jordan, Kobe had something about him that made him stand out.
It may have been his incredible finesse, or the fact that he is the most clutch player to ever step foot on a basketball court, but he simply brought something else to the table that nobody else could. This X factor is the variable that I think made him so great that he may even surpass established greats like LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
He commanded the respect of everyone he played against, win or lose. Not only did Kobe score tens of thousands of points, but he revolutionized how the game was played. Although he is no longer with us, Bryant’s spirit will live on forever in the NBA, through players who he coached and adopted his play style, like Devin Booker, who is one and the same with Bryant.
The nuances of Kobe’s game are what makes him so legendary. He may have retired back in 2016, but you can see bits and pieces of him wherever you go in the NBA. When I say he revolutionized basketball, I mean that the game was changed forever. There will never be a time where the essence of his play is no longer recognized in the sport. It always returns the topic of who is really the best though.
If a player can set records, and win championships and MVPs, there’s no doubt that he could be the best in the league, or maybe even the best of all time.
But, what happens when they retire? A player is defined by his legacy. Bryant was able to plant pieces of himself throughout the sport, and they will continue to grow with his legacy. This is what truly makes a player great. The ability to continue making the sport better after leaving the NBA, or even passing away.
Bryant was more than a hero to every basketball player in the world; he was an inspiration to any person who wanted to better themselves. Therein lies the true essence of greatness.