Kobe Bryant may not have been everyone’s favorite basketball star – mostly because of the way he has played the game over the years – but he is undeniably going down as one of the greatest of all time for that very same reason.
Nike put together the perfect commercial commemorating Kobe’s career, which I feel is the most fitting introduction to this article:
April 13, 2016 – The day had finally come, Mamba’s last game ever was just hours away. All I could think about was how I was going to watch both the curtain-closing performance of Kobe’s career AND the Warriors make history. It was about as stressful as one would assume, especially for someone like me, who respects the individual players as much as I do the game itself. I, like many others, knew that there was going to be something special about that day, besides the obvious. Special? HA. That ended up being a complete understatement.
I think we can all agree that nobody was planning to watch the Lakers vs. Jazz game with the score being a main priority. Kobe didn’t seem to be too focused on that going into it either. I mean, how could he? This was it… his final hours as an active professional athlete. It was time to end his legacy by leaving it all out there in the same place it started for him… the basketball court.
Sure, the present-day golden child, Steph Curry, was about to hit his 400th 3-pointer in one season. And yes, maybe the Golden State Warriors were favored to win their 73rd regular season game to break the 20-year-old record held by the 95-96′ Chicago Bulls. None of that seemed to cause any distraction. April 13, 2016 was Mamba Day… and Kobe Bryant was going to make sure that everybody knew it.
Fast forward to Wednesday evening: GAME TIME. There I was, sitting on my couch at 10:15PM (EST), with my laptop streaming the Warriors game and my TV all ready to go with the Lakers game. WHY WOULD BOTH OF THESE GAMES BE ON AT THE SAME TIME? I wanted to slam my head into a wall. With both starting, I found myself facing one of the most difficult decisions any sports junkie could ever be forced to make — which of these two games was I about to watch with volume? The future vs. the past. As cliché as it is, “when you know, you know”, and I could just tell what was about to go down. “It’s KOBE time,” I thought to myself as I turned the volume all the way up. I was committed.
Rightfully so, from the moment both games began, social media went ballistic. Every person on Twitter suddenly became an NBA commentator, celebrities were live-tweeting their thoughts on every move made by Bryant and Curry, and all across the country people were glued to their TV’s watching history be made. It was like one big social media basketball party and I was absolutely here for it. While the rest of us watched from our homes, the Staples Center was STACKED – with everyone from Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, and Shaq, to Kanye and Jack Nicholson – all in attendance to see Kobe ride off into the sunset of retirement.
I don’t think anyone could have predicted the actual outcome of what we now know will forever be recognized as one of the greatest nights in sports. Steph Curry made history, surpassing his 400th 3-pointer in the regular season, later followed by the 73rd win for his team, the Golden State Warriors (breaking Jordan’s 95-96’ Bulls record); unbelievable and definitely not to be overlooked. But let’s face it, the spotlight was on the farewell performance of the Lakers #24, which was nothing short of greatness.
30… 40… passing 50…wait, what?… 60!!!!!!!! A record setting 60 points in his final game — and then ironically his last NBA stat being a game-winning assist… ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Twitterverse completely lost it. I too, in all of my glory, was in a sports-induced coma. Not only has Kobe had an incredible career but you couldn’t have written a more triumphant conclusion. Jeter, Manning and now Bryant – those kinds of storybook endings are few and far between, but when they do happen, they are unarguably legendary.
ICYMI – Watch Kobe Bryant’s final press conference below:
If Kobe Bryant is living proof of anything, it’s that hard work always returns on investment, dedication can turn dreams into reality, and when you are passionate enough to stay committed to mastering your craft, reality can become better than your wildest dreams.
Salute to one of the greatest.
In the words of 5 time NBA Champion and one of the best to ever do it… “Mamba Out.” #KOBERIP
This article was originally written in April of 2016 as we wend our deepest condolences to his family at this time.