Kobe Bryant

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McElroy: Sunday The Sports World Shook

The death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter. A day we will never forget.

Wes McElroy
January 26, 2020 - 4:58 pm
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There aren’t many days that can shake the entire sports world.

Sunday afternoon it felt seismic with the news of Kobe Bryant’s death.

If the news wasn’t tragic enough, the helicopter crash also claimed the life of nine total including his 13-year old daughter, Gianna.

Left behind are Kobe’s wife Vanessa, his three other daughters, and entire sports world that mourns his loss.

Kobe and I are the same age, 41.

Back in 1994, there was no Twitter or Facebook and some were just starting to find the residential use of the internet and America Online.

But growing up about 40 minutes away from Lower Merion, PA there was quite a growing buzz about a young man that was our age, named Kobe Bryant.

The word was he was so good “he might not even go to college” one of my high school buddies told me back in my days at St.Pius X in Pottstown, PA.

There was no video, I don’t recall his games ever being on ESPN, maybe an occasional story in the papers but the legend, the hype of the kid named Kobe grew not only through the area but then through the country.

Kobe didn’t play in college. He entered the NBA as the league’s youngest player in 1996 and he went on to win five NBA titles, two gold medals, and two NBA Finals MVP awards and was the 2008 MVP. 

But his impact went beyond a box score or a record book.  He helped with the explosion of the globalization of the game but his biggest impact was putting the iconic Los Angeles Lakers back on the map after years of basketball mediocrity following the end of the “Showtime” era.

Like his predecessor Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant will go down as an all-time great in the game. If there was a Mount Rushmore of LA Lakers, Kobe would be one of the chosen four to forever represent the franchise along with Wilt, Magic, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

But unlike Magic, Kobe wasn’t one to smile or hug a rival, he played the game with the fiercest edge earning him the nickname “The Black Mamba”.

Often times in sports, we compare one athlete to one from a previous era or time.  With Michael Jordan, it’s usually LeBron.  Yet, it was often Kobe’s relentless nature and holding teammates to a standard of his work ethic that was much like Jordan.  Sometimes rubbing teammates the wrong way but it was his pursuit to greatness and championships.

Kobe and Shaq together were one of the greatest duos in sports history winning three consecutive NBA Championships along with Phil Jackson.  We also look back on both as one the great “What if / What could have been” if those two could have stayed and played together.

In years past, those two have come together yet to bury any beef, yet it’s hard not to wonder how many titles were left on the table if those two would have stayed together.

It’s impossible to tell the Kobe story without the mention of his arrest in 2003 on allegations of sexual assault and while the charges were eventually dropped, Bryant’s reputation had been damaged. But also part of that story was his wife, Vanessa’s forgiveness, and Bryant working to earn that from his fans, which he did in millions.

Bryant leaves a legacy that his unmatched in the NBA, but he also leaves one as a business man, an Oscar award winner, and Hall of Famer.

He also leaves one as a father and a husband.

Sunday the sports world shook and it’ll be sometime, a longtime until we stop feeling the aftershocks.

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