Lakers Lead

A Tribute to Kobe Bryant

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The TLSM staff is deeply saddened and shattered by the untimely passing of NBA and Laker legend, Kobe Bryant. To honor the legacy he leaves behind, we’ve compiled our heartfelt thoughts and memories of #8 and #24 below.

Jordan Taylor: “Where do I begin. Growing up, watching Kobe play set a fire in my mind. Seeing him compete on the court grew a competitive side that I still have today. Wearing #24 in every sport I played, wearing a band on my left arm just like he did, I wanted to be like him. Knowing that he impacted me and many others goes further than just basketball. Without him and his work ethic, basketball and every other sport wouldn’t be where it is today. Kobe is an icon for sports and I’m thankful I got to grow up watching him compete.”

Jesse Jaurji: “Kobe Bryant is the reason so many of us fell in love with the sport. It wasn’t just what he was able to do in the big moments, it was his character that captivated us. I don’t think basketball has ever seen someone as determined as Kobe Bryant. And I don’t think it ever will. R.I.P. to Kobe and Gianna.”

Sam Allen: “His shots may fade away, but the legacy will live on forever. Thank you, Kobe Bryant. That’s really all I would like to say. Thank you.”

Gautam Ratnam: “There are no words to describe what just happened. Shocked, numb, and stunned are just a few, but the emotion that really stands out is loss. Kobe Bryant wasn’t just a basketball player. He was a superhero. Whether you grew up rooting for the Lakers or despised the times Kobe hit a buzzer beater against your favorite team, Kobe left a mark on your life. That is one part of his legacy that can’t be quantified by the number of championships he won or points he scored.  “Heroes come and go, but Legends live forever” has been a quote many people have used in the wake of this tragedy. Thank you Kobe, for being the Legend of my generation: inspiring millions of kids to yell “Kobe” whenever we shot anything, enlightening us with the Mamba Mentality that made you so special, and giving us a glimpse of your creative side post your playing career. Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant, your name will be synonymous with greatness for generations to come, but more importantly, will be remembered for the inspiration you still are. #MambaForever”

Aravind Srinivasan: “As a Suns fan, I was not a big supporter of the Los Angeles Lakers or Kobe Bryant. He was a thorn on our side too many times. But you can’t not respect his game and marvel at it. The greatness was there for everybody to see. The competitive spirit and the never-say-die attitude were even more impressive than the enormous talent and skills Kobe possessed.”

In terms of Kobe’s legacy, two things stand out for me in particular. He has been the most inspirational star since Michael Jordan for the next generation of NBA players. It takes a particular style of play, body type, super-stardom, and success to be an inspiration for the next generation of younger kids. Kobe had that combination more so than a Shaq, Duncan, or even LeBron. So, he is incredibly popular among the younger NBA players and this is why today was a tough day across the league.”

Another huge part of Kobe’s legacy was his international presence. While MJ and the Dream Team kicked off NBA’s popularity internationally, Kobe was the first active global superstar for the league. This was pure timing. It took a few years since the Dream Team for the league to heat up globally and MJ had retired by then. Also, Kobe’s career perfectly coincided with the growth of the Internet both in the US and more importantly, globally. As access to the Internet and NBA grew in countries like China and India in the early 2000’s, Kobe was the reigning superstar in the league. He won’t be the last NBA megastar in the World, but he sure was the first superstar whose career played out on a global stage.”

Allen Pettigrew: “Sadly, this death will shape a generation. Kobe is such a global citizen that ten years from now we will still sing his praises through media. He’s helped shaped a culture on both coast and globally. He’s the reason your trash can looks like a rim… “KOBE””

Paul Willems: “I wasn’t old enough to enjoy you as Frobe, and even when I was old enough, watching highlights of your 81-point game in particular, I didn’t fully appreciate your dominance. As time went on, though, your importance to and impact on the game you loved became clear and will live on forever. Thank you, because you helped me and so many others like me fall in love with this game and you will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace Kobe Bean Bryant.”

Ashley Wijangco: “I’m a diehard Bulls fan who was born in 1995, so I missed out on the franchise’s greatest moments. By the time I could remember anything, Michael Jordan had left, and the Bulls sucked. Nowadays, I often schedule my life around NBA games. But there was a time when I’d only watch basketball at one time of the year. Growing up, my family didn’t have cable. So, for a long time, the only basketball I watched was the NBA Finals. Because of that, my earliest NBA memories are of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the Finals during the early 2000s. If not for Kobe, I wouldn’t be a basketball fan.”

Eric Peterson: “My love for the Bucks was established at a young age, but that love quickly matured into a league-wide obsession. Our generation has been the one to shout “Kobe!” when throwing crumpled-up paper at a trash can from across the room. I never made many of these, but when I did, I would always look around the room in celebration as if I’d just accomplished something big. Whether you remember the 81-point game, his championship glory, or 60 final points in his final game, he has been and will always be an inspiration for us all.”

Charles Allen: “On December 20th, 2005 Kobe torched the Mavs for 62 points in three quarters. The Mavericks themselves had only scored 61 going into the fourth quarter. I remember watching the game at my home completely devastated how badly he was beating my team, and at the same time in awe of how easy he made it seem. That was Kobe though, on any given night he could light it up and it didn’t matter if you were a fan or not, you respected his game.”

Chris Morrison: “When I was 9 years old, I hadn’t regularly watched NBA Basketball before. The first game I really sat down to watch was when the Blazers played the Lakers in the 2000 WCF. The play that got me hooked to basketball was the Kobe alley-oop to Shaq. From that moment on, I was hooked on the NBA.

But the most fond Kobe moments for me were his overtime takeover in the 2000 Finals, his travels back and forth from Colorado, and the amazing games he played while coming back. His 40-point stretch in January-February of 2006, 81 obviously, his ability to go to three straight finals after everybody left in ’08, ’09 & ’10. The narrative on Kobe was at its very lowest after the Heat won the 2006 NBA Finals. Shaq had won his 4th ring and Kobe was by himself in LA, but Kobe then won the MVP in ’08, then won the ’09 title over Orlando and 2010 in one of the greatest finals of all time.

After those runs, I gained every ounce of respect for Kobe. As a young Spurs fan I hated him, but once he won his 5th title, there was nothing but respect from me. His continual work ethic and his ability to come back from a torn Achilles was also something I’ll always remember. I thought his career was over after 2013, but his ability to come back at such an older age is something I hold when I’m going through a sick time. Kobe to me was something representative to us all, in the sense that we can all work hard to achieve the results we want. If we want it, we can work for it like Kobe. That possibility is always available, we just have to find the inspiration to do so.”

Walyd Mekki-Berrada: “Anyone who grew up watching basketball in the 2000’s was inspires by Kobe Bryants relentless work ethic and amazing play. As a Celtics fan, Kobe was a rival who gained the respect of all. I remember watching the 2010 NBA finals, terrified knowing he could score anytime he touched the ball. I will never forget his last game at the TD garden where he torched the Celtics down the stretch on their home court. Kobe was a genius on and off the court and his passing is a tragedy not only for basketball, but for humanity as a whole. Our sincerest condolences to the Bryant family and everyone involved in the terrible accident.”

Kyle Easter: “As a lifelong Kings fan, most of the memories I have of Kobe are devastating and heartbreaking… but today… today has been the most devastating and heartbreaking moment by far. Way too soon, a legend in everyone’s eyes. Rest In Peace Kobe and Gianna”

Cam Johnson: “If you know me personally, you know I’ve dealt with a fair share of struggles. I battled mental health issues throughout my high school career. Bouts with depression, anxiety made everyday activities hard. I’d look to basketball for therapy. I loved to look through old clips, old box scores, old games, players, and comparisons between multiple players. I found myself watching the 81-point game over and over again. If you watch that game, the Lakers were down as much as 20 and he just didn’t let himself lose. He scored 55 in the second half, willed the ball in with each fadeaway, three-pointer, and drive to the rim. Mamba Mentality. That’s the phrase. Every time I felt down, or out, or lost, or defeated, I’d watch that game, and say over and over in my head, Mamba Mentality. His drive and passion drove me to push through. I love you Kobe and thank you. Prayers to the family, everyone involved. Gianna and Kobe will never be forgotten.”

Corey Rausch: “While I have been a lifelog fan of the NBA, I truly locked in during the 2003-2004 season.  My team, the Detroit Pistons, were one of the stories of the league.  Nothing touched the Lakers though.  Between the splitting relationship of the stars and the overload of talent on the roster, this team had it all.  And Kobe was the nexus of everything.  This finals is the first series that really cemented watching basketball as a family for my dad, my brother, and me. That absolutely had to do with Kobe.  He was a magnet for attention and so much bigger than the game.  He was never my favorite player from a style of the game perspective.  That being said, his intensity and competitiveness were truly inspiring.  The work he was doing with the WNBA and his daughters in his post career took it a step further.  I would have loved to see what he did for equality and to see how many more families he brought together for the love of the game.”

Dylan Corey: “Kobe was always my enemy. Always. It was that kind of long, dramatic hate that always left you asking “Why him again?” But deep down, I was inspired by him like everyone else. As a fan of basketball, I loved him. As a die-hard Celtics guy? Nothing but spite. Eventually, the two franchises began declining. So the rivalry wasn’t as tense, and I hated him a little less. As my age grew, so did my awe for Kobe. And with his final game, a nail-biter against the Jazz, I was full-out cheering for the very man I was supposed to despise. Since then, we have had the privilege and honor to see a little more of the family-man, “dad bod” side. A fantastic father, mentor, icon, speaker, and basketball player. Sean Grande said it perfectly: “As Celtics fans, we didn’t think Kobe Bryant could break our hearts one more time. We were wrong.””

Uday Saluja: “January 26th, the day the world went still.  It’s hard to wrap my head around this even the next day, but one thing has become clear, and it is that the impact that Kobe Bryant made to this world goes beyond basketball.  You did not have to be a fan of basketball to know what the Mamba Mentality meant, because it was a spirit that Kobe embodied, and one which he believed brought the best out of anyone.  To dedicate your mind, body, and soul to a game, was something so special to watch.  While we mourn on the death, we remember all the amazing moments as his legacy will stick around forever.  Mamba 4 Life.”

Sam Radbil: “Kobe was bigger than basketball. The generations that came before us had Magic and Larry. The next group had MJ. We had Kobe. As a kid, you tossed something in the trash and you said, “Kobe.” When you needed to dig deep and channel your Mamba Mentality, that was Kobe, too. He defined basketball and mindset for millions of young people in the late 1990s and 2000s. I’ll never forget staying up late to watch Kobe and the Lakers battle Mike Bibby, Chris Webber and the Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. It was more than basketball; Kobe created a way of life that no one will ever forget, ever. The most impactful four letters in sports for me and millions of others — K. O. B. E.”

Garrett Brooks: “Like people all over the world, this tragedy feels personal to me. From the moment I knew who he was, I became infatuated with Kobe Bryant. He seemed to be head and shoulders above everyone else, all while taking (& making) shots that seemed impossible.

As a young kid, I fell in love with watching him play. It quickly became must see T.V. every time the Lakers played. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, this meant a lot of games ending at midnight on school nights. It didn’t matter though, I threw my Kobe jersey on and sat as close to the T.V. as I could. I wouldn’t miss a minute of any game, because I couldn’t take my eyes off Kobe. It seemed he was always upping his previous performance, and I was scared to miss any of it.

My love for the game of basketball was created by Kobe Bryant. Many of us have chased our dreams partly because of what Kobe taught us. We learned what hard work truly meant, but we also saw what could be achieved if we committed to putting in that work. To this day I find inspiration and motivation from Kobe Bryant.

It’s impossible to pick just one memory from all the years he gave us. My childhood is filled with moments he created and those will always be so important to me. In recent years, it has brought me so much joy watching him transition into the next phase of his life.

Its impossible to explain the impact Kobe had on my life. It’s something I am still trying to understand and put into context. It was a pleasure watching the Mamba play, and his impact will be felt for a very long time. Not only did he inspire athletes, he inspired PEOPLE across the world.”

Ethan Fuller: “I hope I can approach each day with the same passion, hunger and sense of purpose that Kobe Bryant displayed on and off the court. His legacy transcends basketball. Kobe showed what it looks like to truly and deeply love what you do.”

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