Kobe Bryant: All-time legend of basketball
He helped the LA Lakers win the NBA championship as a shooting guard, won the NBA All-Star designation 18 times, NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008 & NBA Finals Most Valuable Player twice.Updated: Jul 06, 2020 19:38 IST
Born in Philadelphia on August 26, 1978 to former NBA player Joe Bryant and Pamela Cox Bryant, Kobe Bryant began practising basketball at the age of 3. When Kobe was six years old, his father Joe retired from the NBA and moved to Italy to play the game at a bit lower level. Kobe picked up spoken Italian and watched the videos of serious NBA games that his grandfather used to send him.
When the Bryants moved back to Philadelphia, Kobe, then 13, began studying at Bala Cywynd Middle School in Grade 8. Kobe was noticed nationally when he was in the Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Philadelphia. As a junior player, he had wonderful record of 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.8 blocks and 2.3 steals and was named as the Player of the Year many times.
At the age of 17, Bryant made debut with the LA Lakers in Summer Pro League in Long Beach, California where he scored 25 points. He became the second youngest player in the history at the beginning of the 1996-97 season. In the next season, Bryant was selected for the NBA All-Star Game. He also signed a six-year contract extension worth of $70 million which kept him in the Lakers till the 2003-04 season. In 1999, when Phil Jackson became the Lakers coach, Bryant became the league’s prominent shooting guard.
Bryant, with Shaquille O’Neal, made Lakers the championship contender. The Lakers won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
In 2002, Bryant logged a then career-high 56 points. He also achieved a career high shooting average of 49.9%. Before the beginning of the next season in 2003, Bryant was accused in a case that caused him to miss some major games due to court appearances. However, in 2004, the Lakers reached the NBA final but lost the league title to the Detroit Pistons.
Bryant led his team and scored very well in 2005-06 and 2006-07, while in 2008 he won the league’s MVP title for the first time. In 2009, Bryant won his fourth NBA title with the Lakers and was named MVP in the finals as he made 32.4 points per game during the series. In 2010, he again won the NBA finals MVP when the Lakers had beaten the Boston Celtics in a series to claim the league.
On April 2, 2010, Bryant signed a three-year contract extension of $87 million. He missed many games due to knee and finger injuries. To match the legendary player Michael Jordan’s total, Bryant also wanted to win the sixth championship.
In 2011, Lakers won the first eight games and Bryant became youngest player to reach 26,000 points in career. In the same year, he also selected to his 13th straight All-Star game with 37 points, 14 rebounds and three steals.
He won his fourth All-Star MVP and tied with Bob Pettit who held the record for the most All-Star MVP awards.
Afterwards, following frequent injuries, Bryant retired from the professional basketball in 2016.
On January 26, 2020, Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter and other six more passengers aboard due to poor visibility in Los Angeles, US.
Kobe Bryant’s first name was chosen by his parents after the popular Kobe beef of Japan, and his middle name, Bean, came from Jellybean, that was his father’s nickname. He gave himself the name Black Mamba after watching the film Kill Bill. Later on, Bryant confessed that he was really inspired by the abilities of the snake such as accuracy, speed and agility. The name became very popular among his fans.
During his childhood spent in Italy, Bryant learnt to speak Italian fluently. He also became an avid football player and fan who had witnessed a golden era in Italian soccer. His favourite team was AC Milan.
During Bryant’s schooldays, he was member of the band called CHEIZAW that was signed by Sony Entertainment. He was also featured in a song titled Tian Di Yi Dou by the Taiwanese singer Jay Chou.
In 2008, Bryant made his debut for the American basketball team during the 2008 Olympics and helped his country win the gold medal. He was also part of the 2012 gold medal winning team.
Source: Wikipedia, NBA, Famouspeople