Any basketball player will admit doing this at some point in their lives, whether it be in a gym, driveway, park, or any other place with a basketball hoop. Back to the basket, pretending to look at a clock that isn’t there, imagining less than 5 seconds on it. Two or three dribbles, fake inside, turn outside, fading away from the basket, while shooting a high arching shot that you hope drops through the bottom of the net, hoping to emulate the person whose name you yell as the shot is in the air:
Kobe Bryant is an icon, plain and simple. His smooth turnaround-and-fadeaway jumper has become as iconic a move as any in basketball history. Entering the NBA straight out of high school, at only 18 years old, he had his struggles. However, he quickly became a star. For the majority of his 20-year career, Kobe dominated the NBA, winning five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs, and one Season MVP Award. He also was an 18-time All Star and a 15-time member of the All-NBA team. However, in the last three years of his career, Kobe was plagued by a combination of ankle, knee, and shoulder injuries, which caused his play to turn for the worst.
Kobe played his last game ever April 13, as his Lakers faced the Utah Jazz. It was a who’s-who of famous people in the crowd, with spectators such as Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Jack Nicholson, Lamar Odom, and several others there to see the legend’s final game. There was an emotional tribute video played before the game, sending all fans through a rollercoaster of emotions. Then, game time arrived. And, in a typical Kobe-esque way, the icon scored 60 points (on a Kobe-esque 50 shot attempts), including two game-winning free throws with 10 seconds left, sending his career off in a perfect fashion.
I’ve always hated Kobe. As a Celtics fan, you have to. The number of game winners, daggers, and clutch buckets he has had against the Celtics provokes tears from many loyal Boston fans. However, I can’t help but be sad at Kobe’s departure. He stood for an era of NBA basketball that can never be replicated. The NBA of the 2000s was filled with passion, intensity, and hard, talented basketball, all personified by Kobe Bryant. His deathly passion and relentless attitude is one that can only be comparable with the great Michael Jordan, who Kobe emulates closer than anyone ever will in the NBA. I can’t think of the NBA without Kobe in it. It just doesn’t make sense. However, as one era ends, another begins. As fans, we will have to see who will be the next face of the NBA. Some say it’s already Lebron James, or Steph Curry. No matter who it is, Kobe Bryant will always stand alone (or maybe just with Jordan) as one of the most influential NBA players ever. So, grab a ball, take a couple dribbles, and shoot a fadeaway for Kobe. I sure will. No matter how much I hated when his shots went in.