[dropcap]N[/dropcap]BA Superstar and Veteran Kobe Bryant is taking his final stand in the NBA after playing with the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons. He will leave the game as one of the most decorated players in NBA history with numerous awards and championship honors. He will be remembered for all of his efforts in every game he played and his ability to hit clutch shots from virtually anywhere on the court. To all his fans around the country and the world he will be remembered as a hero to both the Lakers and the NBA but will he be remembered as a villain too?
Michael Singer’s article on Reggie Miller, an NBA hall of famer voicing his opinion on the retiring Bryant “I love him, I hate him and I respect him,” Miller said. “I love him because, when you come in at 18 and you play 20 years at the shooting guard position, and to end it all with one [championship ring] for the thumb and the amount of minutes, points and mileage that he’s put on his baggage, that shows me a love for the game.”
Miller showed a lot of respect for the Black Mamba but he also voiced his reason for despising Bryant as well, “I hate him because, in 2000 when we battled for a championship, he was just too good. Obviously, along with Shaq [O’Neal], that Laker team denied me from the ultimate goal in winning a championship,” Miller said.
Of course, it’s reasonable to believe that many people are also not a fan of Kobe Bryant’s career as a whole since he was also responsible for ruining a few dreams of other NBA players and organizations throughout his career. From 2000-2003 The L.A Lakers, led by Bryant and former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, dominated the playoffs and the NBA finals by defeating the Indiana Pacers—which included Reggie Miller—the Philadelphia Sixers Led by Allen Iverson, another legend, and sweeping the New Jersey Nets—led by Jason Kidd, winning 3 championships before O’Neal left the team for Miami and had to start all over again.
The Lakers struggled for 1 season without Shaq, as the team did not make it into the playoffs for the 2004-2005 NBA season. Fortunately, Phil Jackson made his return as the Head Coach after a 1-year absence, and the Lakers continued their run into the playoffs for the next 8 years. It appeared his time would finally shine as the dominant star of L.A after the ’07-’08 season, in which he won the league’s Most Valuable Player award for his efforts during the season. The season came without a cause though as he, teamed with Pau Gasol, led the Lakers to the NBA Finals, but lost in 6 games to the equally dominant Boston Celtics.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers finally got their shot at redemption when they won their 15th NBA Championship against the Orlando Magic in the 2009 finals, proving Kobe was able to lead his team to success. He was able to repeat as champions the following year when the Lakers faced the Celtics in a revenge matchup with the Lakers becoming victorious in 7 games. Talking about going out in his own words “with a BANG,” how about that last game though?
His final NBA game of his career, Kobe Bryant faced the Utah Jazz at home and delivered a special performance one last time for the league. He scored an incredible 60 points, making him the only player in history to score that much in the final game of his career. Giving one last goodbye speech before he left the game forever, cherished by many, Kobe was truly an inspiration to kids and adults all around the world.
“Kobe was an inspiration to me just like LeBron is” said Jehiel Exil, local student. “It makes me sad to see him go but it’s bittersweet because of all the things he’s done throughout his career”. Kobe Bryant will be remembered for his amazing plays, such as scoring 81 points in one game against the Toronto Raptors. He will be remembered for his numerous playoff moments and his 5 NBA championships will be cherished forever. Mamba Out.