Goodbye, Kobe

It was eventually going to happen. Kobe Bryant was going to retire. While I never once rooted for him, I am extremely saddened that he has to go out like this — broken, beaten, and battered.

A man who has created great memories for a terrific franchise for 20 years. It’s just too sad that we can’t wipe away the past three years from memory.

From scoring 8 points in a game to having beef with Shaq, to three-peating with Phil and Shaq to winning back-to-back titles with Pau and Odom, Kobe has done it all, and at a very high level.

He won only one MVP award (2008), but took home two NBA Finals MVPs and four All-Star Game MVPs. He is a 17-time All-Star, and scored more points than any Laker in the history of the franchise (32,683). There is a great chance he will finish his career with over 33,000 points, and will be third all-time in that category.

His career average of 25.3 points per game is the 10th-highest in the league’s history, and his five titles put him elite company. He is without question a first-ballot HOF-er, and I’m sure the Charlotte Hornets wished they had kept him when they drafted him in 1996. Instead, they traded Bryant for Vlade Divac. Straight up. Straight up highway robbery.

Divac played two years for the Hornets.

Bryant played 20 years for the Lakers.

He might also be the richest player in the history of the NBA. His career earnings in contracts alone are worth over $300 million. Even with that big-time California state tax, Bryant probably didn’t even notice it. He went about his business.

Just like when in 2004 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals. Bryant was flying from Los Angeles to Eagle, CO., to Minneapolis. If you don’t remember some of the details, then you weren’t paying attention.

I won’t bore you.

His fierceness, competitiveness, drive, and hunger separated him from all other two-guards of his time. Not only was he athletically gifted, he was also work-ethically gifted, meaning his work ethic surpassed the thousands of players who were in and out of the league over the course of his 20 years.

It was spectacular to watch him play, even if I always rooted against him. I was never as scared of any player more than Bryant. He always killed my team. He would dagger everybody.

He was a true assassin.

Father Time is always undefeated, and it claims new victims every single year. Very few recognize when it’s the right time until it’s too late. Unfortunately, Bryant fell into that trap. Now we are witnessing Bryant at his absolute weakest. He has nothing left to give to this great game, even though he is still out there playing. He really is a shell of his former self. He is shooting just 30.5 percent from the field and is averaging 15.5 points per game.

I’ll be sad to see him go. He is one of the last players from the 90s that is still in this great league.

All good things must come to an end.

Thank you, Mr. Kobe.

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