This year, the Los Angeles Lakers had their single worst season in franchise history. Despite the Lakers having no chance at a playoff birth, it didn’t stop the Lakers’ last game of the season from being one of the most memorable nights in basketball history. It was on this day that the world witnessed the greatness of the Black Mamba for the very last time.
That night, Kobe Bryant, at age 37, scored 60 points and lifted the Lakers to a nail-biting victory over the Utah Jazz. Making shot after shot and executing play after play, Kobe had the crowd on their feet and roaring as he continued to do what he does best on the hardwood: get buckets.
Some will remember Kobe for what he has achieved over his illustrious NBA career. Winning Five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, scoring 81 points in a single game, and winning the slam dunk competition are a few of his many ground-breaking accomplishments. It’s no wonder that many people regard him as the best basketball player of all time.
Some, however, will remember him in a different light. Kobe, more so than a basketball player, was a competitor and a winner. He was willing to do anything to win an NBA Championship, whether that meant putting in extra hours in the gym or pushing his teammates out of their comfort zone. Kobe knew what it took to be successful, and did not let anyone get in the way of his tenacious pursuit for success. As he said in a Nike Commercial once, “You should hate me. Hate me because I gave you four a.m. Because I pushed you when no one else would. Hate me because I demanded greatness. Greatness demands everything. Love me when you become greater.” Kobe’s legacy extends far beyond his accomplishments. Kobe inspired millions of people around the world to be the best they can be.
At the end of his final game, Kobe made an emotional speech to the Laker crowd, the very crowd he has entertained night in night out for 20 years. He talked about how fast his NBA career went, what it meant for him to be a Laker, and the impact his fans have had on him. When he was done, he left everyone with the two words, seemingly simple yet bearing paramount significance: “Mamba out.”
Thank you, Kobe.
By: Samir Damji