From diehards to the most casual fans of basketball, everyone has heard of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Even those who have never even watched a full game of basketball in their lives have most likely heard of him. Since joining the league right out of high school in 1996, Bryant has surpassed countless milestones in his path and has carved out a legacy as one of the best guards to ever play the game of basketball.
Seventeen National Basketball Association All-Star selections, five NBA titles, an NBA Most Valuable Player and a two time scoring champion—Bryant’s list of accolades goes on and on. He is one of the best guards that’s ever stepped on the court. Despite this, however, his retirement has not been met with public outcry. This can be attributed, quite simply, to time.
Bryant’s play the last three seasons has not been on par with his normal standard. Even though he was injured in 2013-2014, it is still apparent that age has caught up with Bryant. In my opinion, his retirement is a few years late—not because I want to see him gone, but because very few can continue to play all-star caliber basketball once they pass the age of 35. I’m glad that he decided to hang it up because I don’t want to see him do further harm to his body.
Bryant’s retirement also allows the Lakers’ next star to step into the spotlight. Who this will be can only be told by time, but most would put money on forward Julius Randle or point guard D’Angelo Russell.
For a lot of people, however, they are happy to see Bryant go because of his egotistical personality and the criminal accusations he has faced. Not only is Bryant one of the most arrogant athletes to ever play the game, but he was accused of rape in 2003. Bryant claimed the sex was consensual and the charges were eventually dropped. The issue still remains controversial, however. Bryant was—and still is—married to Vanessa Bryant, who miscarried during the rape trial. Bryant took full responsibility for this.
So why is it that even after such controversy, people still respect and admire Bryant? It is because of what he brought to the game of basketball. He was such an explosive player and was a huge part of the legacy of the Lakers. The respect people had for him on the court seemed to compensate for the lack of respect that most had for him off the court. That being said, we will never forget what Bryant brought to the court each and every game.