Kobe’s Legacy

Matt Messina


Matt Messina, CBN Reporter

Throughout the history of sports, there haven’t been many players who have won multiple championships as the best player on the roster. Therefore, there haven’t been many players to win multiple rings on the same team. There haven’t been many players who transcend their sport and become a staple of pop culture. There aren’t many athletes who are deeply revered by their teammates and genuinely feared by their competitors. There are players who are the face of the franchise but then there are individuals who are the face of the league. Kobe Bryant has accomplished every last one of these things. After a 20 year career consisting of 5 championships, an MVP, 33000 points, Kobe’s greatness has far exceeded basketball. When they were 17, Kobe and his future wife Vanessa fell in love as Bryant became an international sensation in high school. He would go straight to the NBA, skipping college, where he would land on the premier NBA franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are the Yankees or Packers of basketball, as it feels like they have found greatness in every generation. While they’ve had players like Jerry West, who is now the NBA logo and one of the league’s first superstars, Magic Johnson, who saved the game of basketball in the 1980s and also gave the Lakers 5 rings, and now Lebron James, the fanbase will always remember Kobe as this millenniums Laker legend. With Shaquille O’Neil, Kobe would win 3 championships straight in the early 2000s, in the wake of Jordan’s retirement. Kobe became an icon with the way he would take over games. Sometimes he would make an enormously clutch contested shot, and sometimes he would take over games from the start. Kobe’s play style was polarizing to say the least. After chemistry issues, Shaq decided to head to Miami while Kobe was left on a fractured roster. From 2005-2007, Kobe would have a legendary performance seemingly every night, such as the time he scored 81 points on the Raptors, or when he scored 62 points in 3 quarters. Many basketball historians consider this Kobe’s golden age. And in 2008, he would win his first league MVP and would bring his Laker squad back to the finals. While they fell short, Kobe was pushed to work even harder. It’s a great time to mention that no player in sports history worked harder than Kobe. He famously slept 4 hours a night so he has more time to practice, and on average, he would show up to the gym at 4 AM and leave past noon. It’s these habits that made Kobe a bit of a diety in the world of basketball. However, even after the 2009 championship against the Orlando Magic, Kobe needed one more very important thing to be a true Laker legend- he had to defeat the Celtics in the finals. He would do just that. For the rest of his career, and early in his retirement, Kobe would always try and find the next generation to pass the torch to, as Jordan did to him. Some recent examples include Trae Young, Luca Doncic, Boston’s own Jayson Tatum, and the best player on the planet, Giannis Antetekoumpo. He would also have 4 daughters, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri. Kobe was very involved in his daughter’s young basketball careers, as he once to them “If you do the work, if you work hard enough, dreams come true… and if you guys understand that, then I’m doing my job as a father”. Kobe Bryant was so competitive and sure of himself that, after his retirement, he said “If basketball if the best thing I’ve done, I failed”. Which makes what happens next even sadder. This past Sunday, January 26th, Kobe Bryant was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed and burst into flames amid foggy conditions in the hills above Calabasas, California. Kobe was riding with 8 people, including his daughter Gianna, as they were en route to a basketball event for his 13-year old daughter. The entire basketball world was shocked by Kobe and Gianna’s deaths, as Gianna had all the potential in the world, and Kobe was still very active in NBA culture. His influence on the next generation and basketball culture can’t be replicated. He is the type of player we will tell our grandchildren about, as he elevated the world of sports with his mere existence. There will simply never ever be another player like Kobe Bryant. May he rest in peace with his daughter Gianna.