Kobe's relentless spirit inspired

28 January 2020 | Sports

Kobe Bryant used a ferocious competitiveness and uncanny shooting touch to become an NBA icon, leaving behind a legacy that has influenced the newest generation of league talent and fans worldwide.

The retired NBA star (41) died in a helicopter crash on Sunday alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

From his 81-point game, the second-best scoring performance in NBA history, to five NBA titles in 20 years of dazzling performances with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant delivered a relentless attitude that attracted a global following.

Bryant joined giant centre Shaquille O'Neal to spark the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002, becoming the youngest player to capture three titles at 23.

A bitter feud with Bryant saw Shaq depart. This left Bryant without the inside force needed to capture the crown until Spain's Pau Gasol arrived, and the Lakers won titles in 2009 and 2010 with Bryant in command, later patching things up with O'Neal.

Bryant sparked the US Olympic team to gold medals at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics and became a global celebrity as much for his personality as his playmaking.

Bryant's fierceness was legendary and led him to nickname himself the 'Black Mamba' for his ability to strike quickly with deadly scoring accuracy.

There were spectacular nights, but nothing topped his 81-point effort against the Toronto Raptors on 22 January 2006, a mark surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962.

Bryant scored 65 points in a 2007 win over Portland, then followed with 50 points against Minnesota, 60 at Memphis and 50 more against New Orleans – the third-longest run of 50-point games in NBA history behind two from Chamberlain.

Some say Bryant saved the best for last, scoring a league season-high of 60 points against Utah in his final NBA game in 2016, becoming the oldest player in league history to crack that milestone at age 37.

“I love everything about this game,” Bryant famously said. “For me, it's not a part of life, it is life, and it's a part of me.”

In all, Bryant finished with 33 643 points, 7 047 rebounds and 6 306 assists over 1 346 career NBA games. He was an 18-time NBA all-star, the 2008 NBA most valuable player, the NBA finals 2009 and 2010 NBA MVP and matched a record as a four-time NBA all-star game MVP.

But it wasn't a smooth path to stardom. In addition to nagging injuries that slowed his later seasons, Bryant faced a major rape controversy that delivered a body blow to his endorsements image.

Bryant, a father of four who married wife Vanessa in 2001, faced his darkest hour in 2003 when he was arrested in Colorado over a sexual assault allegation filed by a 19-year-old employee of a hotel where Bryant was staying ahead of knee surgery.

He admitted to adultery but said he did not commit rape. In 2004, the case was dropped after the accuser refused to testify, and Bryant issued an apology saying he could understand how she might feel there was not consent.

A separate civil suit was settled under terms kept private.

In 2011, Bryant apologised for using a gay slur to describe a referee and paid a US$100 000 fine imposed by the NBA.

Knee and ankle injuries mounted as the years began to take a toll on Bryant. He missed most of the 2013-14 season with a left knee injury and much of his penultimate campaign with a torn right rotator cuff. He announced his retirement by saying: “My body knows it's time to say goodbye.”

After retiring, Bryant became a children's book writer and wrote the movie Dear Basketball, last year's Academy Award winner for best animated short film.

The son of former NBA player Joe 'Jellybean' Bryant, he was born in Philadelphia in 1978 while his father played for the NBA's 76ers.

The elder Bryant played from 1984 to 1991 in Italy, giving young Black Mamba a global worldview as he grew up dreaming of following his dad into the NBA.

“When I was growing up in Italy, it opened up a whole new world to me and I thought anything was possible,” he told AFP in 2009.

Bryant became one of the first NBA players to seek out a growing fan base in China, blogging for Chinese internet giant Sina in 2009.

“As a kid growing up, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have this big fan base halfway around the world in Beijing and Shanghai,” Bryant told AFP.

NAMPA/AFP

Similar News

 

Big ups to NSC and NSFAF

37 minutes ago | Sports

I must congratulate the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) and the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) for signing a memorandum of understating. It is a...

NRU calls up 47 players for trials

37 minutes ago | Sports

The Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) has called 47 players for a training and trials camp in preparation for the 2020 edition of the Under-20 (U20)...

Simataa Mwiya praises NSFAF

37 minutes ago | Sports

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) and the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) have signed a memorandum of understating which will...

Kilimanjaro Boxing Club to host tournament

37 minutes ago | Sports

Utoni to be awardedThis Saturday will see amateur boxers duking it out at the MTC Kilimanjaro Boxing Club's tournament at Ongwediva.The MTC Kilimanjaro Boxing Club...

Navarrete dominates Santisima

37 minutes ago | Sports

Emanuel Navarrete dominated Jeo Santisima on the way to an 11th-round technical knockout on Saturday to retain his World Boxing Organisation super-bantamweight world title.Mexico's Navarrete...

NPL weighs CAS option

37 minutes ago | Sports

The Namibia Premier League (NPL) is contemplating a move towards the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after the Namibia Football Association (NFA) officially suspended...

Cricket Namibia launches franchise T20 season

37 minutes ago | Sports

Last Thursday, Cricket Namibia launched the third edition of the Richelieu Namibia Cricket Franchise T20, where four teams made their draft picks for this year's...

London can host 2020 Games

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Sports

London would be ready to host the 2020 Olympics if the outbreak of the coronavirus forced the Games to be moved from Tokyo, Shaun Bailey,...

Namibians to try out for IberCup

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Sports

The Otjomuise Football Academy is inviting aspiring footballers for under-16 and under-19 trials that will begin in Windhoek this weekend. Selected players will...

Nakathila unfazed by new opponent

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Sports

The WBO Global junior lightweight title holder Jeremiah 'Lowkey' Nakathila will now have to prepare at short notice for a new opponent in the form...

Latest News

Driving the world through knowledge...

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | People

Ester Kamati Through dedication to his studies, Albin Jacobs matriculated and went on to secure a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Namibia....

Growth is back, says Calle

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Economics

Augetto Graig Despite the legislative framework for public private partnerships (PPP) being in place, not a single such project is on the finance ministry books.“Why...

A rock-hard year for Namdeb

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – Namdeb Holdings’ profitability tumbled by nearly a third last year with the local mining giant reporting an underlying EBITDA of US$121 million...

Fiercely determined

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | People

Mariselle StofbergThe most important lesson that life has taught Maria Haufiku is that it does not owe you anything. “You must constantly strive for greatness...

No reprieve for Fishrot 6

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Justice

The so-called Fishrot Six yesterday returned to the Windhoek Magistrate's Court, which ordered that they be remanded in custody until 23 April to allow for...

Learners in dire straits

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Education

At Sinzogoro Combined School in the Kavango West Region, 130 learners are taught in tents where they sit on the ground to take notes. ...

More people at Fishcor must...

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Opinion

While a lot of light has been shone on the so-called Fishrot Six since the fishing quota bribery scandal unfolded late last year, the same...

Making it happen

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | People

· Mariselle StofbergWindsor Markus believes that you have the power within you to take charge of your life and...

Covid-19: SA at ‘high risk’...

3 days ago - 21 February 2020 | Economics

South Africa, Egypt and Algeria are at high risk of suffering from the deadly coronavirus, a study released Wednesday suggested.The Lancet medical journal reported that...

Load More