Many fantasize of the idea that Kobe Bryant should have gone out on top like Michael Jordan after the Bulls’ second three-peat in 1998 or Peyton Manning’s sayonara after winning Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos.
Peyton, unlike Kobe, had a supporting cast that also included a kick your, ‘rhymes with glass,’ defense.
Kobe’s farewell tour in 2016 was more like Derek Jeter’s retirement tour with the New York Yankees a few years ago.
Bryant is okay with not finishing like Peyton.
“It would have been amazing,” Bryant told Scoop B Radio.
“But you know, it just wasn’t meant to be. But at the same time, I couldn’t complain about it. I’ve enjoyed winning to the tune of five championships and been very fortunate to have those. Most players haven’t been able to get one. So, you gotta be able to take the good with the bad.”
Bryant, the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA, won five rings with the Lakers and closed his career with a heroic 60-point game againt the Utah Jazz to cap off his career.
What makes Bryant special?
“It’s really the joy of the game,” Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant, Bryant’s father, told me on Scoop B Radio.
“I think as a parent, you figure he could play as long as he wants, as long as he enjoys the game. I think he made some comments about mentally…he’s fine. He likes the challenge. It’s your body. Your body takes you long to recuperate. That’s the challenge.”
His teammates would agree.
“Kobe was put together differently than a lot of other guys,” retired NBA vet, J.R. Reid, a former Laker teammate of Bryant, tells me.
“We tried to get him to shoot some craps with us in the back, we started cracking jokes. I might be reading some stock stuff, computers, car stuff and Kobe is over there reading about The Art of War. He’s trying to be a mental assassin.”
“You see a superstar and you expect him to be different and standoffish,” former Laker, Kendall Marshall said on Scoop B Radio.
“But when he’s with the team and on the flights, he’s just one of the guys. That’s something that I can appreciate. I don’t know that there’s a lot of superstars that are like that.”
In 20 NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers; his only NBA ball club, Bryant became a five-time NBA Champion in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010. The Lower Merion High School product also became a 17-time NBA All-Star (had 17 consecutive selections), was the NBA’s Slam Dunk Champion in 19997, scored 81 Points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.