Basketball says farewell to one of the all-time greats



Kobe Bryant waves to the crowd after the Lakers’ loss to Boston Celtics. Bryant has averaged 25 points over his 20-year career.

RYAN HERRING, Sports Columnist

As the NBA regular season comes to a close, professional basketball says hello to the postseason and goodbye to one of its all-time greats: Kobe Bryant.

Bryant came to the league right out of Merion High School back in 1996. He was the 13th pick in the first round of the NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers almost immediately.

That is where he would play his entire career, making him the only player in NBA history to play with the same team for 20 years.

You could say the Lakers and Kobe have had a pretty good relationship and experienced their fair share of success.

Bryant has won five NBA Championships with the Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010), he has been selected to 18 All-Star games and has one league MVP (even though a lot of people argue that he was snubbed a few times).

We have had the privilege to see a young kid grow into one of the best players this game has ever seen. He has proved that he is clutch and does what it takes to win.

Bryant is often compared to Michael Jordan, our generation’s best player. For college kids, we never saw Jordan play, so it was all about Kobe while growing up.

Obviously, towards the end of his career the spotlight shifted to LeBron James and Steph Curry.

However, odds are that a majority of your childhood consisted of Kobe being “the guy,” and the L.A. Lakers constantly being up at the top of the league.

Also, keep in mind what the universal phrase was when shooting a crumpled up piece of paper into the trash.

That’s right, it was “Kobe.”

Bryant had a long and decorated career, but he did run into some issues along the way.

In his early years, some dubbed him as “stubborn” or “selfish” due to the tension in the locker room among him, Phil Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal.

Despite this, the three went on to win three consecutive championships so that goes to show the kind of competitors these guys are.

Bryant’s biggest controversy came in 2003 when he was charged with sexual assault following an incident at a Colorado Spa. The charges were eventually dismissed but his reputation took a big hit.

However, I would say he slowly started earning the respect of more fans as his career went on. Since making his announcement that this would be his last year, this season turned into a giant farewell to the legend. Tickets across the country have been selling out just to get to see Kobe in person one last time.

According to USA Today, yesterday’s meaningless matchup with the Utah Jazz was possibly the most expensive regular season game in sports history.

Ticket prices ranged anywhere from $739 to $27,500 just to witness Kobe’s last game. Just to put that into perspective, tickets for the Golden State Warriors game last night ranged from $336-$15,900 which was a game to break the record for best regular season record in NBA history.

That is just how special “The Black Mamba” is to this sport. He leaves the game as the third highest scorer in league history, a true winner with his five championships, one of the greatest of ever, and with the respect of NBA basketball coaches, players and fans around the world.