Beliefnet

Kobe BryantBefore the fame and fortune, he was a three-year-old who picked up a basketball and began to play. His favorite team was the Lakers and would watch videos of NBA games like a child watches cartoons. Basketball was his life early on and soon as he continued to play it was apparent that the game would be changed by the great Kobe Bryant.

Bryant was the first guard to ever be taken out of high school. He was chosen as the 13th overall draft pick in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets. Fate stepped in, along with a great head scout, and a trade was made sending Bryant to the Lakers – the rest is history.

Then, in 1999 sports magic happened, Bryant was united with Phil Jackson and so began the three-peat – a union that would be forever immortalized by basketball and sports history. The NBA commissioner has called Bryant, “one of the greatest players in the history of our game.” The New York Times has written that Bryant has had, “one of the most decorated careers in the history of the sport.” And in 2007, ESPN ranked him as the second greatest shooting guard of all-time after Jordan.

With Kobe’s recent retirement announcement, fans and sportsman can only reflect upon the legacy that is The Black Mamba. Bryant changed basketball and the way others viewed the sport.

Bryant scored and scored a lot consistently. He was the first player in NBA history to have at least 30,000 career points and 6,000 career assists and is one of only four players with 25,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists. For 20 years, Bryant has continued to play through injuries, controversy and even after others came and gone – Jackson, Shaq and Odom.

Bryant’s loyalty has forever changed the Lakers’ franchise. Through good and bad seasons, Bryant has continued to play and mentor those around him. And his loyalty has paid off with five championships and a great deal of success. Despite losing teammates and other obstacles, Bryant continued to score record breaking points and have ground breaking performances – one of those games being a regulation game in 2006 where Bryant single handedly scored 81 points.

Bryant is the player who carried the game of basketball from Michael Jordan to Lebron James. Overall Bryant’s performance made people become Kobe fans. While they may not have resonated as a Lakers’ fan, they considered themselves to be Kobe fans because he was entertaining. He’s always insisted on playing the role of the superstar. He scores all of the points, made the important shots and is a leader. Bryant stands out and has embodied the game of basketball with his self proclaimed Black Mamba attitude. When looking at basketball now, Antonio Davis, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are phenomenal athletes but just don’t express the excitement like Kobe. His demeanor is electrifying and his presence is felt on and off the court.

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