R. I. P. KOBE BRYANT
By Maloney L. Samaco
Mon, 27 Jan 2020
The whole sporting world was shocked with the breaking news "Kobe Bryant Dead in Helicopter Crash." The retired National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar, only 41-years-old, was among the passengers in a helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, California. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who was a talented basketball player, also died as she was with her dad aboard the ill-fated flight. Bryant lived several years south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County and often rode helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California’s rigorous traffic.
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Bryant, who is a shooting guard, spent his entire 20-season professional basketball career in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers. He joined the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships. Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, and the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) awardee.
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Many basketball enthusiasts consider him as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, because he led the NBA in scoring for two seasons, number four on the league's all-time regular season scoring, and ranks fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. Bryant became the first guard in NBA history to play in at least 20 seasons. According to Forbes Magazine, his net worth was estimated at $350 million in 2016.
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Bryant was born on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant. He attended Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he was recognized as the top high-school basketball player in the United States. Upon graduation, he applied for the 1996 NBA draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th overall pick. But the Hornets traded him to the Lakers.
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As a rookie, Bryant became very popular with his high-flying acts and won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. He was named an All-Star in only his sophomore season. Despite a misunderstanding with Shaquille O'Neal, the duo led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
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Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old woman in 2003 in Colorado but later these charges were dismissed after the plaintiff refused to testify in court and an out-of-court settlement was arrived for the civil suit.
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Bryant's nickname is "The Black Mamba," a name he gave himself, the moniker being more than a nickname. He said it is an alter-ego he created to survive the darkest part of his life. In his auto-documentary "Muse," Bryant revealed that he created The Black Mamba to get through the struggles he experienced off the court in 2003 and 2004.
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After the Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons, 4-2, in the 2004 NBA Finals, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat and Bryant became the franchise player of the Lakers. He led the NBA in scoring during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. In 2006, he scored a career-high 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points scored in a single game in the NBA topped only by Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points in 1962.
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Bryant was awarded as the regular season MVP in 2008. After the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics, 4-2, in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant led the team to two consecutive championships in 2009 defeating the Orlando Magic, 4-1, and 2010 defeating the Celtics, 4-3, winning the Finals MVP Award on both championships. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon at age 34 in 2013. He recovered, but succumbed again to injuries to his knee and shoulder in the next two seasons. With his physical deterioration, Bryant retired after the 2015–16 season.
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At 34 years and 104 days of age, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 career points. He became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history on February 1, 2010, when he surpassed Jerry West's record. During his third year in the league, Bryant was already chosen to start the All-Star Game. His four All-Star MVP Awards are tied with Bob Pettit for the record in the NBA. At the 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London Summer Olympics, he won two gold medals as a member of the U.S. national men's basketball team. In 2018, he won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball.
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On April 13, 2016, in his last game as a professional, Kobe scored 60 points. It was a victory over the Utah Jazz and he finished with 33,643 career points. His teammates passed the ball to him all the time to make his last game memorable. He took 50 shots, an NBA game record.
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LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant in third place of the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and the Lakers superstar scored his 33,643rd and 33,644th career points in the third quarter with a layup to the basket against the Philadelphia 76ers. James wrote Bryant’s two Lakers numbers, 8 and 24, on his shoes as a tribute to the legend.
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Bryant reacted to James’ feat on Twitter, posting: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.” He added a muscle emoji and the hashtag “#33644”, which was the number of points James needed to surpass him as the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
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On Saturday night, James said he was “happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball player to ever play. One of the all-time greatest Lakers.” The next day Bryant died of a helicopter crash. James wiped his teary eyes with tissues as he walked alone from the Lakers plane after it landed Sunday in Southern California from Philadelphia.
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Bryant's father, Joe, a former NBA player who worked abroad to coach in Japan's professional leagues, named Kobe after his favorite steakhouse where he ate Japan's famous Kobe beef.
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Bryant passed his love of the game on to her daughter Gianna. They were often seen sitting courtside watching NBA games recently, and Kobe said she dreamed of one day playing college basketball for UConn. So sad, they died together in the crash.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.
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