Kobe Bryant. Where to start with this guy… how about 5 time champion, 2 time Finals MVP, 13 time All Star, 8 time All-NBA First team and 8 time All-Defensive First team. What stands out the most about Kobe is his passion for the game and his unwillingness to give up.
Kobe entered the NBA as a 17-year old kid in 1996 as a high-flying prospect out of Lower Merion High School, selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets (now known as the New Orleans Hornets). He was born in Philadelphia but moved to Italy as he was young then returned back to Philly during his High School years and made a name for himself as one of the top high school prospects at the time.
In the 1996 Draft, there were high expectations that he would be selected by hometown team, the76ers but he was spurned by the 76ers, whom selected Allen Iverson instead. Kobe slipped to the #13 where he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets. Thanks to the cerebral thinking of then-General Manager and Laker legend Jerry West, Kobe was traded to the Lakers for the starting Centre, Vlade Divac (that might be one trade that the Hornets wish they could take back).
Since then, Kobe has not disappointed. Every game would be one for the history books, whether it involved him scoring 81 against the Raptors, 62 in 3 quarters against the Mavericks, draining 12 three-pointers (in 18 attempts) against the Seattle Supersonics or setting a Madison Square Garden record by scoring 61 points in the building.
He has made a name for himself as one of the best, if not, the best closer the game has seen. Hearing the crowd yell out in disappointment and showering him with boo’s after hitting a game winner or clutch shot (on the road) has become a routine for Kobe.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Kobe. He faced his shares of downs in his career whether it was wasting years of potential championship talent away on a team full of Kwame’s, Smush’s and Mihm’s or whether it was his dispute with Phil and being labelled as “un-coachable”
Yet that didn’t stop Kobe from playing the game. He used that negativity he got from the media and turned it into revenge, letting his play do the talking. This is word to the media, keep the hate coming guys!
Happy Birthday, Kobe!