Image Via: Buffalo News
When the NBA Season resumes on October 25th, it will be missing one of the biggest names that it ever had. Kobe Bryant played his final game for the Los Angeles Lakers on April 13th and went out in a way that only Kobe could. After twenty years in the NBA and numerous injuries catching up to him, Bryant decided to make the most out of his final season.
When the season began, basketball fans everywhere were eager to see how the great NBA star would handle the young roster that he would share the court with. The Kobe of years past would have chewed their heads off and made examples of them during practice. Old Kobe would solidify in their minds that it was his team and he wouldn’t take anything less than one hundred percent out of them, but that wasn’t the case. The ruthless, better than the rest attitude that everyone had come to expect from Bryant was nowhere to be found. If you would ask most NBA players they would say that nobody’s competitive spirit would compare to Kobe. He would let you know that you weren’t going to beat him and that you would never be as good as him. Instead, he took advantage of this last season to say goodbye to the league and some of his biggest competitors he ever played against.
Image Via: Complex
There wasn’t a single game that the Lakers played on the road this year that didn’t sell out. People were coming from all across the world to get one last glimpse of the Black Mamba. While he embraced the love from fans and players on other teams he made sure to make the most out of his last go-around. Meeting with other players of teams that he had played and signing autographs and taking pictures is something that the old Kobe would have never done. His cutthroat competitiveness wouldn’t let him. While he still had that mentality on the court, he shared tips of how other players could be great and encouraged younger guys to make their name in the league like he did.
When Kobe laced up his sneakers for the final game of his career back in April, other players across the league were lacing up the exact same sneakers as a way to honor the Mamba for everything that he has done for the game of basketball. When the Lakers took the court against the Jazz there was a certain electricity in the air for the special night.
All season long we had seen Kobe on the court in a form that we weren’t used to seeing. He had lost his quick first step and didn’t seem to have the tenacity that he played with for the past nineteen seasons. When the Lakers tipped off that final game against the Utah Jazz, Kobe came out looking like the Kobe of old. He commanded the ball, dominated the floor and wasn’t holding anything back. In his last game, he gave every NBA fan a glimpse of what they had missed all season, the Kobe that would not lose.
He went out on top, scoring sixty points in his final game that would go down in the record books. After being an inspiration to so many people over the years, Kobe had to pass the torch of being the best in the league and was the last of a generation of players that changed the game. From attitude to tenacity and everything in between, Kobe made himself a one of a kind player and the NBA will never be the same without him.
Happy 38th Birthday, Kobe.