January 26th, 2020 will go down as one of the most tragic days of all time. Just before 10:00 AM PST, we got word of a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California that was accompanied by a significant brush fire. Shortly after, TMZ reported that NBA Legend and international icon Kobe Bryant was on that plane and was killed. I kept refreshing Twitter to see if it was fake or not, but unfortunately, it wasn't and an incredible tragedy had taken place.
Kobe, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, as well as seven others were killed in the helicopter crash. The helicopter was on its way to Mamba Academy, where Bryant was going to coach his daughter's team. Two of Gianna's teammates were also on the plane and makes this story even more horrifying. Among the other's lost were a husband and wife, the husband being a legendary junior college baseball coach at Orange Coast College, a mother of three who was an assistant on the team and was given the nickname "Mother of Defense", due to her knowledge of the zone defense. Lastly, Kobe's personal pilot, a guy who was described as a "loving and incredible man" by his family and friends.
I honestly don't know where I'm going to end up going with this article, but before I do, I would like to send my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of this devastating helicopter crash. It's hard to imagine what all of them are going through right now.
Remembering Kobe Bryant
We did an activity in my agile project management class where we wrote down qualities of a great leader. All I could think about was Kobe Bryant. That's one of the takeaways I get from the career of Kobe. He was a phenomenal leader and led not only by example but also vocally.
This was present during the Los Angeles Lakers back to back titles in 2009-10. The critics were saying Kobe couldn't do it on his own, and he needed Shaq to win. He proved everybody wrong. Those performances in the Finals cemented Kobe as one of the best players in NBA history.
His work ethic was matched by no one. There are countless stories of Kobe being the first guy in the gym, going extremely early in the morning to either get a lift in or get extra shots up. That's the Mamba mentality. Kobe knew he'd have the advantage both physically and psychologically because of all the work he was putting in. I watched Carlos Boozer on ESPN last night talking about how much of a gym rat Kobe was during the 2008 Olympics. He wanted to make sure that they weren't going home with anything but a gold medal and that's exactly what they did.
Kobe's work ethic continued to define him up until his death. He was a major advocate for women's basketball and even worked with some of the best players in the world. HE WON A FUCKING ACADEMY AWARD. He legit retired from basketball made an animated short film titled Dear Basketball, and it was so incredibly well done that he won an Oscar.
Bryant was also starting to get heavily involved in the business world. According to CNN Business, "Bryant invested in a venture capital firm with web.com founder Jeff Stibel in 2013". As of 2020, Bryant's firm had accumulated more than $2 Billion in assets. That's pretty damn good for a newcomer.
Kobe the Basketball Player
Kobe the basketball player will go down as one of the greatest to ever do it. There's been few all-around players in NBA history who you could say do everything at a really high level. Kobe Bryant was one of those guys. He was known for his scoring ability and ultra athleticism in his early years. Kobe dunked on anything and everything in his younger days.
As Kobe got older though, he started to rely more on his mid-range and post-up game, which rivaled Michael Jordan's. As a defender, you knew when he got to the elbow, he was MONEY. Even if you got your hand up and played good defense, it didn't matter, it was going in. He's fourth all-time in points scored and will likely stay in the top ten for a long time because of the ridiculous scoring outputs.
One of the underrated parts of Kobe's game was his defense. Nobody ever talked about his defense because of how good of a scorer he was, but he could lockdown with the best of them. He made 12 all-defensive teams in his 20-year career. Holy shit. Later in the article, I'll talk about one of my favorite defensive moments from Kobe.
The accolades are endless with Bryant. 18-time all-star, 5-time champion, 12-time all defense, two finals MVP's, two scoring titles, you could go on and on talking about how much Kobe was able to accomplish during his legendary career.
My Favorite Kobe Moments
Dropping 60 Points in His Final Game
The Lakers were terrible in Kobe's later years. That was mostly due to Bryant being oft-injured and the roster filled with a bunch of old vets and young talent. However, Kobe gave us one more memorable performance in his swan song. He dropped an outrageous 60 points in a come from behind Lakers win and cemented his kegavy even further.
Plus, the speech he made at the end of the game to the Laker faithful was memorable. We're never gonna forget Kobe saying, "Mamba out", followed by a mic drop onto the logo at half court.
Kobe Blocks LeBron Twice during the 2013 All-Star Game
This was dope. It was a close finish and the East was down. So they gave the ball to LeBron and guess who was covering him? Yup, Kobe. LeBron had the major size and strength advantage on the aging legend, but that doesn't mean shit to Kobe. LeBron drives goes for the pull-up and there goes Kobe rejecting his shot, which led to a Kevin Durant dunk on the other end. What ensued was an epic staredown between James and Kobe, with Kobe proving that he's still head honcho.
With about 50 seconds left, Kobe picked up LeBron full court and stayed with him stride for stride which led to another rejection. Kobe let everyone in the building know that he was still here and wasn't going anywhere. An underrated moment between two of the greatest to ever do it.
81 Point Game vs. Toronto Raptors
This was the peak of Kobe's fuck you tour. His team wasn't great, the players around him weren't good, so he just went out there and scored a shit ton of points. Earlier that season, Kobe dropped a whopping 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Oh yeah, and he outscored the Mavs 62-60 during those three quarters.
Nothing was stopping Kobe on January 22nd, 2006 against the Toronto Raptors. He dropped a cool 26 points in the first half while being covered by a very good defender in Morris Peterson. Unfortunately, Peterson got into foul trouble, which meant they would have to put Jalen Rose on him, who was not known for his defense. Bryant proceeded to drop a double nickel in the second half, dominating from mid-range and hitting a ton of free throws.
That performance gave Kobe second place on the all-time single-game scoring list. Guys have come close to passing Kobe, with Carmelo Anthony, LeBron, and Devin Booker putting up masterful scoring performances, but it's gonna be tough for someone to get 81.
It was an incredibly difficult day for a lot of people yesterday. Kobe meant so much to a lot of people, including the city of Los Angeles, people overseas and young hoopers everywhere. He's an icon and when you think of people, and I'm talking everyone who's ever existed, Kobe is definitely one of the first handful of names you think of.
Again, I, as well as the entire Burbs staff sends their deepest condolences to the families of everyone who was affected in this horrific crash. If you're looking to honor Kobe in any way, he does have his own charity called the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which helps families in need. Even a small donation can make a difference and Kobe and his family would greatly appreciate you guys making a difference just like Kobe made a difference for so many people. Here's a link to the website. http://kvbff.org