Greatness Of Kobe Bryant Remembered As The Sports World Mourns
LOS ANGELES, CA — Kobe Bryant, who was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash near Malibu, lost his life with his name etched into the book of Los Angeles Lakers lore, joining Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West as team legends. Beyond that roster of Lakers, he was considered one of the greatest players in the history of basketball.
Bryant was as charismatic as he was skilled, becoming a global figure known for flashing a lightning smile and for a combination of speed, grace and power on the court, where he could smoothly knock down jumper after jumper or score with quick moves into the key, soaring and stretching toward the basket as he whistled the basketball through the hoop in trademark Kobe dunks.
Bryant, a Philadelphia native, was killed one day after being passed by Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Bryant had sent a tweet out Saturday congratulating James on his milestone,”Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”
See: Kobe Bryant Killed In Helicopter Crash
A 6-foot, 6-inch shooting guard, Bryant retired from the NBA at the end of the 2015-16 season still able to excel on the court.
He now sits fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, with 33,643 points. He won two NBA Finals MVP awards and one NBA regular-season MVP honor during his long career.
A graduate of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Bryant entered the NBA straight out of the school located in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He won five NBA titles with the Lakers, as well as two Olympic gold medals representing the United States.
Bryant is one of five players in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons with a single team. Bryant was able to finish with career averages of 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in 1,346 regular season games.
He wore both No. 8 and 24 with the Lakers, the pair of numbers both retired by the franchise.
In Kobe’s final game, on April 13, 2016, he scored 60 points, leading the Lakers to the final victory of his career.
The sports world reacted to news of his death quickly.
“I’m stunned. Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just incredibly sad and tragic day,” Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen shared on social media.
“Can’t be true. Just can’t be. Truly truly horrific. Rest in peace Kobe Bryant,” J.J. Watt said on Twitter.
Paul Pierce, Bryant’s long time rival in the NBA, also took to social media to comment on the devastating news.
“This is not real right now.”
Bryant’s most famous teammate Shaquille O’Neal struggled to find the right words to articulate the loss.
“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of losing my niece Gigi & my brother Kobe Bryant,” Shaq said in a tweet. “I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryan family and families of the other passengers on board. I’m sick right now.”
Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time and the man Bryant has credited for his style of play, released a statement on the passing of Kobe.
“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe — he was a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.”
Bryant was far more than just a basketball player.
Kobe was fluent in both Italian and Spanish as a result of growing up in Italy where his father was a professional player. Bryant has also written a series of kids books and even won an Oscar for his short film “Dear Basketball” in 2018.
Bryant was also heavily involved in charity work both in the Los Angeles area and across the nation. In 2007, he signed on as national ambassador for a children’s charity called After-School All-Stars.
An organization that provides a variety of after-school programs to over 70,000 inner-city kids.
Former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden shared his thoughts on the sudden death of Bryant Sunday at a campaign event in Iowa. Biden said he didn’t know Bryant well, but the news still provoked important thoughts.
“But you know it makes you realize you gotta make every day count,” he said. “Every single solid day, every single day count.”