Kobe Bryant left the NBA on his own terms on April 13, 2016, scoring 60 scores – more than any other player in the race that season – in his victory over Jazz Jazz when he drew a curtain on his 20th historic year. career.
On Sunday, the 41-year-old tragically left the world in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles, California that killed nine people including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
The outpouring of tributes from those in and out of basketball, including Barack Obama, Rafael Nadal and former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal, provides a brief illustration of how Bryant’s legacy will be arranged after his death.
Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash that killed nine people including his daughter, 13-year-old Gianna on Sunday. The Lakers legend left a formidable legacy on and off the field.
In court, he will go down as one of the biggest ever to play the game, winning five championships, two NBA Final MVPs and two Olympic gold medals, while finishing fourth in career evaluation – he was overthrown by the Lakers captain at this time LeBron James on Saturday.
Outside the court, Bryant had many things: An intellectual who easily switched between Italy, Spain and England; a father who loved four little girls, a novice media mogul who won an Oscar, Barcelona and AC Milan football fans, a champion of women’s sports, and an idea for young players for his winning attitude which he gave the label “Mamba Mentality.”
However, the allegations of sexual assault stemmed from the 2003 incident in Colorado, which was dropped and later solved in court with a civil suit, complicating his legacy in the #MeToo era and causing protests after his Oscar victory in 2018.
But the experience, which cost millions of dollars in support agreements at the time, also developed it as a person and allowed the release of competitors who were not apologetic and sometimes too under-educated in him, he said later.
Bryant (left) modeled his basketball game after Michael Jordan, for whom he sought advice as a rookie star and as a former fighter facing retirement.
Grow with ‘retaliation’
Bryant is the son of a former NBA player, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, who moved to the Italian league when his son was only six years old.
It was in Italy where Bryant’s love for football was composed and where he also experienced racism.
“When I grew up in Italy, I had witnessed then going to certain soccer competitions and things like that,” Bryant recently told Andy Scholes of CNN.
“My parents have taught me and taught me about methods to deal with such things.”
Brazilian star Neymar paid tribute to Bryant after scoring for PSG against Lille on Sunday.
Growing up in Italy arranged younger Bryant socially and competitively, he said.
“Our parents immerse us in Italian customs. We are only surrounded by little Italian children. We only learn their language,” he told O’Neal in an interview for TNT in 2018.
That was also when the killer’s instincts began to develop in court.
“A lot of things have to do with isolation, growing up there and being the only little African-American … I weigh in the game and in that game you find comfort,” he said.
“And when you play with little ones who may not get you because you are an outsider, that is my chance to get revenge against them for not getting me.
“It is always outsiders who come to signify (something) or seek some kind of retaliation,” he added. “I always have the will.”
Bryant will grow into a 6-foot 6-inch point phenomenon as a Philadelphia high school student. He was the first guard to be recruited then from high school to the NBA in 1996 as the 13th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets.
The Lakers’ regular manager, Jerry West, has been eyeing the 18-year-old, and is trading for him in a deal overshadowed by the signing of the excited O’Neal squad.
The dynamic pair will win three NBA Finals from 2000 to 2002, with O’Neal truly the alpha of the team. At the time when the Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 Final, however, friction had already occurred between two superstars who were barely chatting.
The difference between their offseason work manners is largely to blame, with Bryant calling O’Neal “fat and formless,” before the start of their last season.
“I will admit many times I did not come to the tent ready … because I have you, I can relax in the summer,” said O’Neal, who resolved the problem with Bryant, in the TNT Interview. “That’s what keeps me going; my butt is in the gym 10 hours a day,” Bryant answered.
O’Neal was traded to Miami and the Lakers rebuilt around Bryant, who will bring two more championships to the Lakers Nation with Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010.
Kobe Bryant (left) celebrates with Shaquille O’Neal after winning the 2000 NBA Championship against Indiana Pacers. Two superstars will be canceled by a personal feud after their fourth trip to the finals, but become friends in retirement.