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NBA | Feb 08

Kobe Bryant’s Legacy Lives On

The Lakers Will Immortalize Kobe With a Bronze Statue Outside of Crypto.com Arena on 2/8/24

Kobe Bryant's Legacy Lives On
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers | Gabriel Bouys / Afp

Black Mamba 🐍

He’s like our generation’s Jordan. – Cam Thomas

While I’ve always been a Chicago Bulls fan, I followed Kobe Bryant’s entire career! Kobe is one of my favorite athletes of all time. It’s been over four years since his death and I still can’t process that he is gone.

Kobe’s death devastated everyone he inspired but his legacy lives on.

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Kobe is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. I have him as the best Laker ever. His two jersey numbers in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena are constant reminders of what he meant to the team (the franchise retired Kobe’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys on December 18, 2017).

And now, the Lakers will immortalize him by unveiling a bronze statue to honor him in downtown Los Angeles outside Crypto.com Arena today. The venue, named STAPLES Center during Kobe’s playing days, is known as “the house that Kobe built,” as he led the Purple and Gold to five NBA Championships.

The 18-time NBA All-Star, five-time NBA champion, and one-time NBA MVP, spent his 20 seasons in the league with the Lakers, and delivered unforgettable moments, like his historic 81-point game against the Raptors on January 22, 2006, one of the greatest single-game performances in NBA history.

The Kobe stats with the Lakers are unreal. He averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in 36.1 minutes over 1,346 career games.

The Lakers chose 2/8/24 as the date for the statue’s unveiling because Kobe wore No. 8 and No. 24 during his NBA career, and his daughter Gigi Bryant wore No. 2. The statue will be unveiled just before the Nuggets-Lakers game tips off at 10:00 PM ET.

Kobe took over games in ways that not many players could. His drive to win at any cost helped him succeed on and off the court.

That mindset led him to all his remarkable achievements.


The 2000 NBA Finals

Kobe Bryant’s death still feels unreal! To honor Kobe, I will share one of my favorite moments from his career…how he overcame an injury in the 2000 NBA Finals.

Kobe hurt his ankle badly in Game 2 of the 2000 NBA Finals. He called it the worst sprained ankle of his career. “From there, it was on me to figure out a way to play and be tactical.

I knew what I could and couldn’t do, which directions I could push off and how much force I could apply. After establishing that, it was just a matter of altering my game within those constraints to continue dominating,” Kobe said in his book, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.

“I had to, even on one ankle, keep the advantage in my court and never let the defense force me to do something I didn’t want to do. That was the key here, and that’s the key always.” Kobe concluded.

Kobe went from missing most of Game 2 and all of Game 3 to stepping up in a big way in Game 4, playing 46 of a possible 53 minutes and scoring 28 points to help the Lakers beat the Pacers 120-118 in overtime on June 14, 2000 in Indianapolis. The Lakers eventually won the series in six games, securing Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal’s first NBA Championship.

Kobe’s Legendary Workouts

Kobe’s grueling cardio workouts gave him an edge throughout his career. He could run all day long, and knew that if someone wanted to be a great basketball player, they had to be in great shape.

In his book Kobe also discussed his workouts and training sessions, which always made NBA news headlines. He explained that he worked relentlessly to make sure that his legs and lungs were always at peak performance.

“My cardio workouts centered around recovery—that is, the time it takes to recover in between sprints. The reason I placed an acute focus on that element is because basketball dictates short bursts where you run as fast as you can, then have a moment to recover, then burst again. I wanted to make sure that I would always be ready for the next burst of action.”

Kobe also said that he did a lot of time work on the track, where he would incrementally decrease the amount of time between each set. He did that until his recovery time would be almost nil after a full offseason.


Kobe’s Legacy Will Live Forever

Kobe’s legacy is evident every time people go to a Lakers game and it is carried on by the NBA’s next wave of stars. This season, 39 players in the league have worn either No. 8 or No. 24, including Zach LaVine, Devin Vassell, Cam Thomas, and Jalen Williams.

“He’s like our generation’s Jordan,” Thomas told ESPN. “How the other guys liked Jordan, that’s how we are with Kobe.”

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