KOBE Bryant used a ferocious competitiveness and uncanny shooting touch to become an NBA icon, leaving behind a legacy that has influenced the newest generation of league talent and fans worldwide. From his 81-point game, the second-best scoring performance in NBA history, to five NBA titles in 20 years of dazzling performances with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant delivered a relentless attitude that attracted a global following before his death Sunday at age 41 in a helicopter crash. Bryant joined giant centre Shaquille O’Neal to spark the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002, becoming at the age of 23 the youngest player to capture three titles.
A bitter feud with Bryant saw “Shaq” depart, with Bryant portrayed as never having had childish ways while O’Neal never outgrew them. That left Bryant without the inside force needed to capture the crown until Spain’s Pau Gasol arrived, and the Lakers won titles in 2009 and 2010 with Bryant in command and later patching things up with O’Neal. Bryant sparked the US Olympic team to gold medals at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics and became a global celebrity as much for his personality as his playmaking. Bryant’s fierceness was legendary and led him to nickname himself the “Black Mamba” for his ability to strike quickly with deadly scoring accuracy.
There were spectacular nights, but nothing topped his 81-point effort against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006, a mark surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. Bryant scored 65 points in a 2007 win over Portland, then followed with 50 points against Minnesota, 60 at Memphis and 50 more against New Orleans — the third-longest run of 50-point games in NBA history behind two from Chamberlain. Some say Bryant saved the best for last, scoring a league season-high of 60 points against Utah in his final NBA game in 2016, becoming the oldest player in league history to crack that milestone at age 37. “I love everything about this game,” Bryant famously said. “For me, it’s not a part of life, it is life, and it’s a part of me.” In all, Bryant finished with 33,643 points, 7,047 rebounds and 6,306 assists over 1,346 career NBA games.
KOBE FACED CONTROVERSY Bryant faced a major rape controversy that delivered a body blow to his endorsements image. Bryant, a father of four who married wife Vanessa in 2001, faced his darkest hour in 2003 when he was arrested in Colorado over a sexual assault allegation filed by a 19-year-old employee of a hotel where Bryant was staying ahead of knee surgery. Bryant was accused of rape. He admitted to adultery but said he did not commit rape.
Grammy Awards honour Bryant THE 2020 Grammy Awards was filled with tributes to Los Angeles icons as the night honoured NBA legend Kobe Bryant and rapper Nipsey Hussle. The Grammys kicked off with a performance in honour of Bryant. Later in the show Hussle’s collaborators and friends, including DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG, gave an all-star tribute to the man who died last year. “Rest in peace Nipsey Hussle. Rest in peace Kobe Bryant,” DJ Khaled said as photos of the entertainers appeared onscreen. Jordan mourns death of ‘little brother’ MICHAEL Jordan mourned the death of Kobe Bryant, saying the Los Angeles Lakers icon was “like a little brother” to him. “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing,” said Jordan, regarded by many as the greatest basketball player in history. “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe, he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much.”