With the last game of Kobe Bryant’s long and illustrious career being mere hours away, it makes sense to honor the man and take a look back at his life and career right from the start.
From the moment he was named a freshman starter on his high school team (Lower Merion in Philadelphia), there was something special about Kobe Bryant. Throughout high school he was capable of not only playing five positions, but playing them extremely well. After averaging over 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in his junior year, Kobe began to attract attention from a number of colleges, but after Kevin Garnett was the first prep-to-pro (high school to NBA) player in about 20 years, it was in the back of Kobe’s mind to skip college altogether and jump right to the NBA. After having an even more dominating senior year, he made his decision and declared for the 1996 NBA draft, without even visiting a single college.
Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, but was immediately traded to the Lakers for center Vlade Divac. The reason for the trade, according to Bryant’s agent, was that Kobe refused to play anywhere else except for Los Angeles, and, decades later, the man got his wish. He was a member of the lakers and in his first year, was actually the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game (a record that has since been broken). Bryant played about 15 minutes a game as a rookie, but showed signs of greatness throughout the year. It was his second year (with increased playing time and role) that Kobe was able to showcase his abilities as a talented young guard. Despite not being a starter, his point per game were 15.4 (a league high for bench players) and he was also voted an all star starter, being the youngest player to achieve that feat as well.
His third year is when he became a bonafide star and was recognized as one of the best guards in the league. He started every game, signed a huge 6 year/$70 Million extension and drew comparisons to Micahel Jordan and Magic Johnson. However, his team was still having problems in the playoffs. But the following year, those problems would be forever forgotten.
This is because from the years 1999-2003, the Lakers would go on to three-peat as NBA champions which helped solidify the elite status of Kobe Bryant. The next few years would have some ups and downs, but Kobe continued to be one of the best players in the league and was arguably the biggest star. Eventually he took a back seat to guys like Lebron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and more, but continued to work and play 20 years in this league, all with the Lakers.
His career accomplishments make him easily one of the best players of all time and a surefire, first ballot Hall of Famer. Kobe is not only 3rd all time in points, he also: won 5 NBA titles, an MVP award, been to 18 All Star Games and so many more accomplishments. There is no arguing he is among the greatest of all time and it is extremely sad to see the Mamba retire.