The Legacy Of Kobe Bryant

Bryant in 2007Source: Keith Allison from Kinston

The basketball world mourned this January when news broke that all-time great NBA player Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. Though he retired in 2016, he was still a huge influence in the sport. He was known not only for his amazing skills on the court, but for his winning attitude. It’s something we could all learn from…whether we’re basketball players or online slots players.

The crash happened on January 26th, when Bryant was travelling with his daughter, Gigi, in their private helicopter. They were on their way to her travel basketball game when the helicopter went down, killing all nine people on board, including one of Gigi’s teammates and their parent, as well as the pilot. The accident was cause for worldwide mourning among basketball fans, who have long looked to Bryant as a hero in the game.

Bryant’s career

You could say that basketball runs in the Bryant family. Kobe’s father was NBA player Joe Bryant, who played for the Golden State Warriors and later coached the WNBA team the Los Angeles Sparks. He not only inherited his father’s height, at 6’6”, but also his love of the game. He was already playing basketball by the age of three, and cheering on his favorite team the Lakers.

He was six when his family moved to Italy so Joe Bryant could continue playing pro basketball after retiring from the NBA. Young Kobe started to play basketball more seriously, and when they moved back to Philadelphia when he was 13, he quickly became a star on his high school team. He’s continued to be famous around the world, even in countries without a strong basketball tradition. Though many US NCAA teams tried to recruit him, he decided to go directly to the pros, and joined the 1996 NBA draft. When he was just 17, he signed a three-year $3.5 million rookie contract with the LA Lakers, where he’d play for 20 years.

Breaking all the records

It didn’t take Kobe long to make a name for himself in the NBA. Whether he was dunking or taking a crazy shot at the last minute, he quickly became a big asset to the Lakers. He was voted an NBA All-Star for the first time in 1998, an award which he won a total of 18 times, and was the All-Star Game MVP four times. And in 1998, he signed a new six-year contract for $70 million.

The Laker’s investment paid off when Kobe grew into one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. The Lakers took home three NBA championships in a row from 2000 to 2002, with the combined talents of Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. At age 23, Bryant became the youngest NBA player to have won three championship titles.

In spite of a slump in performance after the “threepeat” and various injuries, Kobe kept his seat among the greats of the NBA. In 2007, he hit 20,000 career points. He represented the US at the Olympic games twice, in 2008 and 2012, bringing home the gold medal both times.

By the end of his career in 2016, he was the league’s highest-paid player, with a contract of $32 million a year. His 20th season, 2015-2016 would be his last, and the Lakers finished with their worst record in the team’s history, 17-65. Still, he scored a season-high 60 points in his last NBA game, reminding the basketball world that he was a star up to the very end.

What made him great

Kobe Bryant primarily played as a shooting guard, and claims he learned a lot of his style from Michael Jordan. His signature shot was the fall-away jump shot, as well as what Sports Illustrated called the “jab step-and-pause” shot, which let him dodge opponents for a clearer shot at the basket.

He was also known for taking buzzer shots, as well as other risky shots. Some people saw him as a selfish player, because he’d just keep shooting until things worked out. Even though he was one of the greatest players, he actually missed more career field goal attempts than any other NBA player.

Bryant was also known for being a resilient and hard-working player, an asset no matter what sport you play. He would push through his injuries and was always very competitive. As he became more experienced, he turned his commitment into an opportunity to work with his team as a mentor and friend. Even though some people considered him a player they loved to hate, his performance always made him great in the end.

Bryant in 2003Source: Rob from Galapagar (Madrid)


Like many of the world’s high-profile athletes, Kobe Bryant was not without his scandals. He didn’t get in trouble for doping or cheating like many of his contemporaries, but he was the focus of a controversial sexual assault scandal in 2003. He was arrested as part of an investigation of a sexual assault complaint from a 19-year-old employee at the hotel where he was staying in Colorado. Bryant admitted to having relations with her, but denied her allegations of rape.

Even though the case was dropped because the accuser decided she didn’t want to take the stand, Bryant still felt the backlash of the event. He lost high-value endorsement deals with McDonald’s and Nutella, and many fans turned against him. He made a mea culpa statement in 2004, and later privately settled a civil lawsuit related to the allegations. Still, the accusations continued to haunt him for the rest of his career, leading many fans to change their opinions of him.

Changing the face of sports

Many people have said that Kobe Bryant continued the legacy of Michael Jordan after his retirement. They had very similar playing styles, and Jordan even said that Bryant could probably beat him one-on-one since he knew all his moves.

But what lives on most about Bryant is his persona. After the sexual assault scandal threatened his career in the early 2000s, he introduced the world to the “Mamba Mentality”, nicknaming himself the “Black Mamba”. Black Mambas are known for being relentless, and Bryant brought that same work ethic to his game. He tried harder than ever to pick himself up when he fell and put in his best work. He even continued playing in 2013 after tearing his Achilles tendon—just to shoot free throws. This dedication has been inspiring to both players and fans, and owning up to the Black Mamba persona told people that it was okay to be selfish and play hard…if you won doing it.

After retirement, many players take on different roles in the sports world, coaching teams, owning franchises, or mentoring younger players. We’ll never know what kind of great things Kobe could have accomplished if he’d had more time to apply that Black Mamba persistence to his post-pro career.

The family tradition

The Bryant family basketball legacy was set up to continue with Gianna Bryant, called Gigi, but her budding talent was cut short by the tragic accident. You could often see Gigi watching basketball games with her father, learning all the tricks of the trade from the sidelines with her mother and siblings.

Not content just to watch, she took up basketball from a young age and had a clear talent. She was even nicknamed “Mambacita” after her father and had plans to go on to play in the WNBA. Her father coached her AAU team and helped her train. After watching the UConn Huskies play, Gigi had her heart set on playing college ball with them before heading to the WNBA.

Bryant had three other children with his wife, Vanessa, including an infant who was only a year old when her father died. The family’s mourning was mirrored by public celebrations of Kobe’s life, with memorials and vigils outside the Staples Center where he had once played. Athletes and fans around the world paid tribute to the basketball great who had been a hero to so many.

Kobe Bryant shooting around.Source: Toonari Post

What we can learn from Kobe

Most of us will never be able to reproduce Bryant’s signature slam dunks or fall-away jump shots, but we can all learn something from his amazing work ethic. Even in the face of injuries, scandal, and hard seasons, he always got out on the court and gave the game his all. No matter what your game is, that type of dedication is bound to pay off.

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