Kobe Bryant was excellence on the basketball court.
A winner of five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, and a regular-season MVP award, Bryant was also an 18-time NBA All-Star and was listed fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list with 33,643 points.
Sadly, the Lakers icon died in a helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant’s daughter, Gigi on Sunday, January 26.
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Appearing on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, I asked former Boston Celtics champion and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins what Bryant meant to him. “Man, I just remember Kobe’s mindset man,” he said.
Kendrick Perkins: Kobe Bryant Was an ‘Enforcer’
Perkins continued, praising Bryant’s toughness physically and mentally:
Just the way that he approached the game. You know, when you think about a fierce competitor you think of Kobe Bryant. Like, he wasn’t backing down from nobody. It’s very rare that you have a shooting guard that’s your enforcer on your team like, Kobe was on those Laker squads, that he was their enforcer — the way he carried himself, what he brought to the table and what I think about is, when I think of the Mamba Mentality I think of Kobe Bryant when I think about that no one that I can even think about would’ve been able to handle what Kobe did.
How Kobe handled that Denver situation (Bryant was accused of sexual assault in 2003; charges were dropped), what he was going through and still being able to go back and show up to work and give people 40-pieces! Like, you have to think about how mentally strong you have to be to do something like this. So, when I think of Kobe man, I think of the fierce competitor and the enforcer that was at the two-guard and one of the best to ever do it.
Kobe Bryant Spent 20 Years With the Lakers
Bryant retired from basketball in 2016 after 20 years in the game with career averages of 25.0 points, 4.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds.
The 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Lower Merion High School, Bryant is the only player in NBA history to spend 20 seasons with one team.
Many compare Bryant’s game to Michael Jordan. Jordan got the chance to close his career on his terms while with the Chicago Bulls, retiring twice and winning championships both times (he later returned, for two seasons, with the Wizards). Retired NFL player Peyton Manning ended his similarly when he and the Denver Broncos captured Super Bowl 50.
Could Bryant imagine riding off in the sunset like that?
“It would have been amazing,” Kobe Bryant told me in an interview in 2016. “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.”
Like the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, Bryant is a second-generation NBA player.
His uncle, Chubby Cox also played in the NBA as did his father, Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant. Bryant’s father was the Golden State Warriors’ 14th pick in the 1975 NBA draft. The power big man was later traded to the Philadelphia 76ers before his rookie season and the San Diego Clippers in 1979. He signed with the Houston Rockets in 1983.
“I figure it is helpful in the sense that our children get a chance to meet or go places where the normal child doesn’t get a chance to go to you know,” Joe Bryant told me via Scoop B Radio. “Meaning that after a game, when you’re 10, 11, or 12 years old you can go in the locker room and talk to Magic or talk to Kareem, or talk to George Gervin or whatever the case may be, you get a chance to get on the court and shoot around with them where a lot of kids don’t get that opportunity so, and then also they understand the ups and downs and the challenges that their parents went through, that their father went through it in the sport.
“As parents, we try to give our kids advice just to stay focused, work hard and those types of things that you been through. … So that’s the advantage.”