Kobe Bryant: An Unquestioned Basketball Great With a Mixed Legacy



Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greats of the game of basketball, established by his 20 years of glittering career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was among nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday north of Los Angeles. Bryant was 41. Bryant’s 13-year old daughter, Gianna was also killed in the tragic event. The news of the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter shocked the entire NBA fraternity, which is filled with young players who grew up idolising Bryant. The entire world was saddened by the death of the great star but there is a mixed legacy that he has left behind which is an amalgamation of greatness and controversy. 

Career Highlights
Born to the former NBA player, Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant, he was drafted straight into the NBA in 1996 at a delicate age of 17, and from the very start of his career, he was a mammoth figure. He spent his entire career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and in his 20 years’ career, he earned 18 All-Star selections, a regular season Most Valuable Player Award, two NBA finals MVP awards and five championship rings. He was extremely popular with the fans and players alike, and for a period of time he had become the face of the Lakers team. 

Attitude and style of play
The traits that made Bryant a Laker were his fearlessness, focus and dedication towards the sport and a relentless spirit that carried him through even during the toughest of times. He played through injuries a lot of times only being finally stopped by a torn left Achilles’ tendon late in the 2012-13 season. Bryant being the stubborn character that he always had been refused the on-court diagnosis and asked the Lakers’ athletic trainer Gary Vitti to fix the severe injury with just a tape. 
He had an attitude towards the game that was unmatched. From the very early days of his career, he never shied away from the fact that he wanted to be the greatest basketball athlete that the world had ever produced and that he wanted to break Michael Jordan’s records. A rift with the Hall of Fame centre player Shaquille O’ Neil during the seasons of 1999-00 and 2001-02 was speculated over who was the main player of the team. As the years passed by, Kobe Bryant became the single most important figure in the Lakers team and restored the Lakers back to glory by scoring 81 points in a single game and making them go on a winning spree. 

Complicated Reputation
In 2003, Kobe Bryant was charged with felony sexual assault stemming from an incident at Colorado hotel in which he faced charges of raping a front-desk clerk. Though the prosecutors had to drop the case ultimately because the victim was unwilling to testify, Kobe Bryant’s reputation in the public was greatly damaged. Bryant later issued an apology stating that he understood that the victim didn’t perceive the encounter as consensual like him. The lawsuit filed against him was settled out of court. 
Further, during the closing stages of his career, he gave himself nicknames such as ‘Black Mamba’ and ‘Vino’. He also took helicopter rides to games at Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles to escape the traffic and crowd which marred his reputation. 

An Ending Note
It is expected that Kobe Bryant will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in late August this year, the first time he will be eligible for the same. A combination of a great career mixed with controversies defines the man that Kobe Bryant was – a man who mastered the sport of basketball, a man who never shied away from being in the news for both right and wrong reasons. He was a man who was loved by many. He was a man who was hated by some. He was a man who will be forgotten by none. He will be there in the books of history forever. Black Mamba Out. 

Written By - Purav Nayak

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Kobe Bryant: An Unquestioned Basketball Great With a Mixed Legacy Kobe Bryant: An Unquestioned Basketball Great With a Mixed Legacy Reviewed by EMN on January 29, 2020 Rating: 5

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