Kobe Bryant: The Black Mamba

Donovan Lee, Co-Sports Editor

Four of the greatest letters in basketball history. We all have memories that connect us to him. Even those who have never watched a game know who he is. Whether you hate him or love him, you can’t deny the talent, the athlete that was and is, Kobe Bryant.

A five-time NBA champion, Kobe has once been named the league’s Most Valuable Player as well as the NBA Finals MVP two times. As of Jan. 25, he is fourth in all-time scoring after being passed by LeBron James. He hooped, he acted, he rapped. The man even won an Academy Award. How could you not appreciate his talent and versatility?

On a personal level, my first pair of basketball shoes were the 2K4 Kobe Huarache pair in all black. I felt like I was him when I put those on. He meant so much to me, and he still does and maybe even more now. There were nights as a kid when I stayed up past my bedtime to see him play. I watched him drop 81 against the Raptors. I witnessed the duels between the Lakers and the Celtics. I watched him win championships, I watched the MJ vs. Kobe All-star game. I watched his final game as he dropped 60 points in Staples Center. Yes, Michael Jordan has one of, if not the, greatest careers of all time. However, I wasn’t around to see Jordan make magic. I saw all of Kobe’s career milestones. Kobe was my Michael Jordan.

Kobe Bryant’s life was basketball. You can’t mention the sport without his name being brought up. The man personified what basketball is supposed to be: he brought grit to the game. Anyone who plays through broken noses, broken fingers, even a torn Achilles, has a passion for their craft that is unparalleled. He brought swagger to the game, he brought that intensity every time he touched the court. Kobe made basketball fun. He is, to many, the reason why we love the game so much.

As we grieve the loss of yet another legend in our culture, we must remember to appreciate all he gave to the game and the world. Even off the court, he was a husband, father, teacher, friend. He taught us that if you love something, give it everything you have. He showed us what hard work and dedication is. He cared so much for the game and it transcended time. Even after his retirement, he poured into the next generation of athletes. Kobe gave the world something that will live on forever. The Black Mamba will live on as one of the greatest athletes in history. My condolences to the Bryant family and the families of the other seven victims. Rest in peace Gianna Maria Bryant, who was only thirteen. Rest in peace Kobe Bean Bryant who was forty-one.

Thank you, Kobe, for everything.