When the Charlotte Hornets selected Kobe Bean Bryant in the 1996 NBA draft, there couldn’t have been many that predicted that the seventeen year old from Lower Marion High School would prove to become one of the greatest players in the game. During his pre-draft workout with the Lakers where he scrimmaged with Lakers Larry Drew and Michael Cooper, Lakers manager and basketball legend Jerry West stated that Kobe “marched over these people” and thus the legend begun.
The first jersey I ever owned was a Kobe Bryant jersey. In 2006 when Kobe changed his number from no.8 to no.24, twelve year old me was shattered that I had just purchased my second Kobe jersey and it was now immediately outdated. I’ve watched all the old 2000-2002 finals matches where Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal dominated the league for three consecutive seasons, becoming one of only five teams to ever three-peat in the NBA.
Part of me was actually grateful for the infamous falling out between Shaq and Kobe after they failed to beat the Detroit Pistons in 2003. My Miami Heat got Shaq Diesel and this was the beginning of Kobe trying to drag the Lakers into the playoffs with the likes of Smush fucking Parker as his starting point guard for the next few years.
That was until the second coming of Phil Jackson, the coach that led Kobe and Shaq to their three-peat.
With Jackson, I remember Kobe would go on to reignite the greatest rivalry in sports between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics, as the rivals clashed in the finals in 2008 and 2010. Kobe and the Lakers managed to win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010 and Bryant cemented his status as an NBA legend, proving all the doubters wrong that he could do it without Shaq.
I could go on for days about everything that Kobe Bryant has accomplished but really it just comes down to that ever since I’ve started watching basketball Kobe has been the man.
He was the face of the NBA in the 2000’s and he was the most globally transcendent player since Michael Jordan, with a particularly large following in China. In 2006-07 his Jersey became the top selling jersey in the United States and China.
Even in his 17th NBA season and at 34 years of age, Bryant was incredibly potent, managing an average of 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6 assists. That was just two seasons ago before injury tragically derailed the tail end of his career and which has led to his recent decision to retire at the end of this season.
Everyone I have spoken to has had a pretty similar sentiment;
“That it’s about time he needs to retire”
“His play is detrimental to his now young team”.
I can’t in anyway deny that. It’s 100% true.
This year Kobe has been nothing short of utterly terrible. This morning, Kobe’s first game since announcing his retirement, Kobe hit his first three shots. Kobe would only hit another 4 shots the rest of the game, finishing with 7 for 26 from the field.
For instance, there has been 774 individual seasons in which a player averaged 16 Field Goal attempts per game. Of those 774 seasons, Kobe Bryant's 2015-16 current season ranks dead last in True Shooting percentage ranking
(Note: Steph Curry’s '15-16 TS% ranks 1st. Absurd.)
Essentially, Kobe is taking at least 16 shots a game, of every player that has averaged that many shots in a season, his current season has been the most inefficient. It is never ideal for a young team trying to learn and improve when there’s a 37 year old on the team taking 16 bad shots per a game. Not exactly the best role model for a young team.
So yes, it’s a thing, Kobe Bryant has to go. It’s time. Not just for the sake of development for the NBA, but for him. I can only imagine what 20 NBA seasons would do to the body. On November 29 Kobe Bryant wrote to the Players’ Tribune exactly that. He wrote;
“But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”
At least he knows it’s true as well. But for all my concern over Kobe’s detrimental effect on his young team, what he done for basketball speaks for itself.
Kobe is a 17-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA team, 12-time member of the All-NBA defensive team, 2 time NBA leading scorer and 3rd all-time in both regular season scoring and post-season scoring. He has the 2nd highest point total in a single game with 81 points and he was just the third player in NBA history to average 40 points in a calendar month, which he has accomplished four times. He is an NBA MVP, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, 2-time Olympic Gold medalist, and 5-time NBA Champion. He is arguably the greatest player of his generation and is a global icon for the sport.
Kobe has earned the right to go out guns blazing for the rest of the year and I’m going to enjoy every minute, brick and swish.
Real life Bond villain Eddie Goldsmith has a passion for photography, movies, basketball and speaking in third person. Like most other sleep deprived 20-somethings Eddie's managed to find a balance between calm and collected to being one coffee cup away from never sleeping again. Writer, Editor, Generous Lover, Photographer and part time funny man I'm always looking to try my hand at something new.