There has been some debate in the last few weeks about the ultimate legacy of Kobe Bryant, five time champion.
On one side of the spectrum is appreciating what he has accomplished. The dazzling highlights, unstoppable offensive skills and the amazing drive to be the best basketball player since Michael Jordan.
Kobe’s stats are prolific: Five NBA Championships in 20 seasons. Twice an NBA scoring leader, 17 All-Star games, 12 time All-Defensive team selections, 32, 363 points and 25,307 field goal attempts.
On the other side we see an ego driven athlete addicted to fame who doesn’t know : a) when to pass the ball and b) step away. Who was only selected NBA MVP once in his 20 year career, which speaks to his constant battle to win the hearts of media voters. (Compared to Jordan’s five MVPs’ and LeBron’s four league MVP season awards.)
And through it all, it must have been tough on Kobe recently, perhaps worse than ever. For the first time in his basketball career, he’s not dominating and he’s starting to hear the chorus of negativity about his ability not his personality.
Sure, there has always been some of us who wish Kobe would pass more, but no one ever doubted his ability. Now we see his human side on the basketball court. Now he’s just average. And he’s no doubt heard it.
So perhaps wisely, he’ll take a route Derek Jeter did so nicely when it was clear The Captain had lost something at the plate, and he’ll change the narrative of his swan song. Instead of the airballs, Kobe has made the story about his retirement at seasons end, and not about how he’s played more than any other Laker and missed a majority of them, not about perhaps one of the worst Laker teams in 30 years and about a legend so devoted to a game he loves, but out of respect willing to walk away.
And when Kobe penned his Dear Basketball narrative on the Jeter sponsored Players Tribune, really he was saying:
Dear Fans, please appreciate what I have done and most of all:
Don’t forget about me.
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