By Devin Tse
By Tyree Winborn
The Mirror Staff
Kobe Bryant Immortalized in History.
November 27, 2017
NBA: After a legendary career Kobe Bryant will be immortalized in Laker history
Five-time NBA champion, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, NBA MVP, 18-time NBA All Star. A man whose accolades seem to be endless. A man who has imposed fear and awe to his fellow competitors.
His plays has captivated an entire generation and inspired current and future NBA players to strive for greatness. From challenging the NBA’s best to draining clutch shots time and time again, Kobe Bryant is considered to be one of the greatest of his generation and some argue the greatest of all time.
His basketball path began in Lower Merion High School where his superb play earned him national recognition. He would then forego his college basketball career and make an immediate jump to the NBA.
In the 1996 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets selected Bryant with the 13th overall pick. On July 1, 1996, the Lakers traded their starting center Vlade Divac for Bryant, thus starting the “Kobe Era” in Laker history.
Bryant spent his first three seasons adjusting to the pace and lifestyle of the NBA. His fortunes changed as the Lakers acquired future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal from the Orlando Magic.
The tandem Bryant and O’Neal established became one of the best duos in NBA history.
From 1999-2002 the Lakers created their own dynasty and culminated with a three-peat. Bryant made his presence known as a perennial guard in the league from there on.
The Kobe and Shaq era would soon end as differences and bickering emerged between the star players forced O’Neal to be traded to Miami. Reports emerged stating the power struggle between the players as they began distancing their relationship and chemistry on and off the court.
Now the lone star of the franchise, Bryant would go on a tear offensively from 2004-2007. During this span, he obtained an 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors, outscored the Dallas Mavericks 62-61 through three quarters, and achieved ten 50+ point games in the 2006-2007 season.
However, the Lakers would be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns for consecutive seasons, despite Bryant’s amazing scoring performances.
In 2008, after a blockbuster trade, the Lakers acquired All Star Power Forward Pau Gasol. The Lakers propelled themselves to the 2008 NBA Finals after the acquisition of Gasol. But the Lakers fell short as they lost to their arch rivals, the Boston Celtics.
The following season, Bryant led another championship campaign as they eventually culminated with a 4-1 victory over the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals.
Now with a total of four rings added to his collection, Bryant found himself yet in the 2010 NBA Finals. The Lakers once again faced the Boston Celtics Bryant and won themselves the fifth ring.
From then on his career would take an unfortunate turn. The Lakers were eliminated early on in the playoffs for the next two seasons.
Things seemed to turn around as they signed All Star Center Dwight Howard and future Hall of Famer Steve Nash during the 2012-13 season. Now with a “super team,” the Lakers seemed destined to reach the Finals again.
However, a fracture in his left knee sidelined Nash for the remainder of the season and differences between Howard and Bryant surfaced as well. Howard wanted to be the focal point of the Lakers offense, but due to Bryant’s ball dominant nature they were unable to develop a compromise to each others offensive style.
The Lakers were on the brink of missing the playoffs as they were fighting for the eighth seed. Bryant surged forward as he produced heroic performances in the final few games of the season.
On one fateful night against the Golden State Warriors, Bryant suffered a torn achilles tendon. Despite rupturing his achilles, he gingerly walked to the free throw line and buried a pair of free throws to seal the eighth seed for the Lakers.
After a grueling recovery process in the following offseason, Bryant was determined to overcome his season-ending injury. Bryant was unwavered with this new obstacle in life and would return to the court on December 8, 2013.
Due to several emerging injuries throughout the season his playing time would be hindered as he would eventually be shut down for the remainder of the year. Entering his 19th season there would more injuries that would limit his minutes and play throughout the course of the season.
In his 20th and final season of his lustrous career, Bryant would become the first player to play twenty seasons in a single team. He would announce his retirement via The Players’ Tribune on November 29, 2015, sparking a worldwide cry of admiration and thankfulness towards Bryant.
He was often booed and cursed at when he visited opposing arenas but this drastically changed after his retirement announcement. The chants of “Kobe” and gestures of gratitude were ever more intense as the season waned down.
On April 13, 2016 the world set their eyes on the Staples Center as it marked the final game of Bryant’s legendary career. After all the ups and downs of his career, he would suit up for the purple and gold one last time. With millions watching worldwide and NBA players giving their last tributes, Bryant did not disappoint as he created a magical performance. He would rack up 60 points in his farewell bid and push the Lakers to victory.
Now in retirement Bryant has yet to achieve all of his milestones. The Lakers will retire both his number 8 and 24 jersey on December 18. He will become the first player to have multiple jerseys retired in the same organization. As the lights shine on his jerseys and it rises into the rafters, it will solidify his place in Laker glory. Reminding fans of the past, present, and future of the tenacity, toughness, and competitiveness of the Black Mamba.