Kobe Bryant was arguably the greatest basketball player of all time

When did you know people would call you the greatest of all-time? Was it when your parents moved to Italy in the 1980s and you had to adapt to an unfamiliar environment? Or maybe when you went to Lower Merion in Philadelphia and had to claw your way through hundreds of players included on McDonalds All-American lists? Perhaps it was when Del Harris made you sit as a rookie and watch as older players ran out their career shot clock. The 1997 dunk contest allowed you to soar into your future superstar status with the world watching. When you won your first NBA championship in 2000 with Phil Jackson and the Lakers, there were talks of you being like Michael Jordan, but like a black mamba, you adapted to the inclusiveness and pressure of comparisons and winning, which allowed you and Shaq to 3-peat (2000-2003). When things got rocky in 2007-2008 and you decided you wanted to leave the Lakers, did you establish yourself as the greatest by staying and winning two more championships in 2009 and 2010? What about that relentless work ethic you possessed? Every push-up, every mile ran every bench press, every rehab scenario. You played with broken limbs that would sideline any mortal man for months, even a lifetime. What about in your retirement game when you dropped 60 points, then won an Oscar two years later. Did you finally have the self-realization that “maybe” you are the greatest of all-time?

Here’s a list of Bryant’s accomplishments:

20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers

5x NBA Champion

2x Scoring Leader

1 Season MVP

2x Finals MVP

15x All-NBA Teams

12x All-Defensive Teams

15x All-Star Games

4x All-Star Game MVPs

1 Slam Dunk Champion

25x 50-Point Games

5x 60-Point Games

2x Olympic Gold Medals

When the world received the news of your passing, clippers at barbershops shut off, shots falling into baskets went flat and tears wept from the eyes of millions. Grown men who probably haven’t cried in years released years of pent-up emotion through your eternal journey. Black boys to men understood the significance of screaming your name while shooting an unbalanced shot in a classroom or kitchen trash can. Black women who aspired to be athletes looked to you for inspiration in a widely male-recognized occupation. You were like a black superhero, inspiring people from all walks of life to be their best selves and never settle for average. We will forever honor your legacy and think of you when we see a basketball bouncing on a hardwood floor.

Rest in peace to Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, the Altoberri family, Sarah and Payton Chester, Ara Zobayan, and Christina Mauser.

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