Opinion: Basketball will miss Kobe Bryant


Ray Strickland is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Ray Strickland

Future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant announced a few days ago that he would retire at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 NBA season and many people around the league could not believe that his career is coming to an end.

Although it was clear Bryant was not the same player he once was, players around the league still could not stomach the fact the “Black Mamba” would no longer be in the purple and gold.

“Much respect to @kobebryant as he announces his retirement after the season,” New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon tweeted. “A fierce competitor and one of the greatest to ever do it!”

Current Chicago Bulls forward and former Laker Pau Gasol won two titles with Bryant, after being traded from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. Gasol took to Twitter to express his gratitude toward his former teammate.

“We have lived incredible moments together on and off the court,” Gasol tweeted. “Thanks for everything brother! @kobebryant#ThankYouKobe.”

One of the game’s top shooting guards James Harden gave his thoughts about the Mamba, saying he was a “warrior” and “a beast.”

“A legend,” Harden said in describing Bryant’s game. “I grew up watching him. He was my ‘MJ.’ Just for him to be done, for his last go-round, it’s sad. That’s the end of a dynasty. He had a really good run, but it comes to an end. He‘s a monster. He’s a beast.”

When Kobe Bryant was passed up by 12 teams in the 1996 NBA Draft, no one thought nearly 20 years later Bryant would be arguably one the greatest NBA players to ever pick up a basketball.

Bryant, who decided to forgo college and go to the NBA right out of high school, has been one of the game’s most celebrated athletes and rightfully so. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar has amassed more than 32,000 points over his 20-year career.

The 37-year-old Bryant has won nearly every award in the book. He’s won five NBA titles, two finals MVP’s and one NBA regular season MVP.  Bryant has also been named to the NBA all-star team 17 times, winning the all-star MVP award a record four times.

There is no doubt Bryant’s talent was on another level, but it wasn’t his skill set that set him apart from other greats in the league.  It was his approach to the game, his determination and sheer will to win that made him a trademark NBA performer.

After Bryant was acquitted of rape charges in 2003, the Kobe we all knew and loved changed. He became the “Black Mamba,” a nickname he gave himself after watching “Kill Bill,” in which the snake, known for its agility and aggressiveness, was used as a code name for a deadly assassin.

The warrior-like mentality Kobe displayed throughout his NBA career when it came to the game of basketball is unprecedented. There is arguably no one who can match the intensity Bryant brought to the game and to the NBA will be missed.

The influence Bryant has had on the league will forever be appreciated. He was the modern day Michael Jordan and the praise he will receive from every NBA arena during his “retirement tour” is well-deserved.

Ray Strickland is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].