By Alex Romano
2020 has been a year that many people will never forget. As a college senior, I was told that 2020 was going to be the best year of my life. During the midst of the Corona Virus, COVID-19, outbreak it is very easy to lose perspective of what has already transpired in the three short months of 2020. It has been over two months since we lost Kobe Bryant to a devastating helicopter crash in California. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic his death seems at if it had happened in the distant past, when in reality the memory of him remains fresh in our brains. On Saturday April 4th, we got another chance to honor one of the all-time greats.
Growing up a diehard Celtics fan from Boston, Massachusetts, you despised the Los Angeles Lakers. With that being said, no matter what team you rooted for Kobe Bryant was always respected. Not only was it his work ethic, but his determination to be better than everyone in the NBA is what cements his legacy as a hall of famer. One of the best stories ever told about Kobe Bryant occurred during the 2008 Olympics. The Lakers had just lost the NBA Championship to the Celtics and Kobe came across a picture of Paul Pierce in the newspaper. How his teammates tell the story is that he cut out the picture, put it in his pocket and said, “it’s for motivation”. That summer Kobe helped lead the USA Olympic team to the gold medal, defeating Spain in the championship game 118-107. This was the kind of competitor that Kobe Bryant was.
Kobe was drafted straight out of Lower Merion Highschool to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would spend his entire twenty-year NBA career. Throughout his career Kobe lead the Lakers to five NBA Championships, was a 18 time All-Star, 15 time All-NBA team, 12 time All-NBA defensive team, 2008 MVP, and two time finals MVP.
One of the best legacies of Kobe Bryant is what he was able to accomplish in his final NBA game. On April 13th, 2016 Kobe played his final NBA game against the Utah Jazz. In a 101-96 Lakers win Kobe scored 60 points in his final game. In his post-game speech Kobe said, “It’s funny, my whole career people told me to pass the ball and tonight everyone was telling me to shoot”. Kobe gave his fans everything they wanted to see in his final game, they got to watch one of the best scorers in history do what he does best.
As amazing as Kobe was on the court, what he did off the court was just as important. Kobe created the Team Mamba AAU basketball team to coach his daughter. One of Kobe’s biggest goals in life was to raise awareness for female basketball players and give them a chance to be great. He was a leader, mentor, and most importantly a “girl dad”. That is why the events that transpired on January 26th, 2020 shocked the world.
To many of us Kobe was not just a basketball player. He was an inspiration, a role model, an idol. For our generation we grew up yelling Kobe as we took a turn around shot or even just threw a piece of paper in the trash. He was supposed to be immortal. He turned his fans into family and turned his competitors into fans. On April 4th, 2020 Kobe was given one of the greatest accomplishments a basketball play can receive, being elected into the basketball Hall of Fame. While the pain of losing Kobe is still very real to many of us, his election of to the Hall of Fame is the validation that Kobe is a true hall of fame player. He will forever go down as one of the all-time greats.