Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, January 26, 2020, while en route with his daughter and seven other passengers to a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.
Bryant is the NBA’s fourth-highest scorer behind LeBron James, who has 33,643 points. A five-time NBA Finals MVP award winner, Bryant was the NBA’s regular-season MVP in 2008, a four-time NBA All-Star MVP, two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist, an NBA Slam Dunk Champion, 11-time All-NBA First Team recipient and two-time NBA scoring champion. He wore numbers 8 and 24, both of which were retired by the Los Angeles Lakers organization.
“He brought that desire, passion and hunger to the game,” NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens told me.
Terrell Owens spent 15 years in the NFL, most notably with the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. He caught 153 touchdowns and had 15,934 career receiving yards, which ranks second in the NFL’s history books.
In today’s sports climate nobody stays with one team. Owens was impressed with Bryant’s exit because he did it all in Los Angeles. “To be with one organization for the whole tenure of his career, it’s kind of unheard of,” marveled Owens.
“I think you have another guy who has done that in Tim Duncan; 19 years with one organization.”
Kobe Bryant retired from basketball in 2016 with career averages of 25 points, 5 rebounds and a smidge under 5 assists per game. He ended his career in style in the last game of his career, when he scored 60 points in the Lakers’ 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz and announced to the world, “Mamba Out.”
Owens has been criticized in his career for documented feuds with former quarterback Donovan McNabb while they were both members of the Philadelphia Eagles. Owens also famously cried behind his Ray-Ban glasses in a press conference after a Dallas Cowboys loss in which members of the press were ‘pointing the finger’ at his quarterback, Tony Romo.
Kobe Bryant has been widely criticized during his career for feuds with former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal and head coach Phil Jackson. Bryant took all of that criticism in stride and still won just like Owens has. “The thing that Kobe has done is he kind of brought his passion to life from a little kid and it’s remarkable,” said Owens.
“You see a guy that was dedicated to his craft, to the point where people felt that he alienated some of his peers. But to be at that level and to encompass some of the things that he has accomplished, you have to be that way. You have to have that chip on your shoulder. To watch that and witness him drop 60, that was the epitome of his career. For those young guys that watched that live, if they didn’t get anything from that season, that game alone should have shown them why Kobe was Kobe.”