Helped Lakers win five NBA championships and Scored 5,640 point in the playoffs
For 20 years Kobe Bryant has symbolized the NBA – transcending the sport to unprecedented levels
After being handed the baton from Michael Jordan as basketball’s flagship player, not only did Bryant accept the changing of the guard, he ran with it at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now at the age of 37, the finish line on his illustrious career is within sight. On Wednesday night, Bryant donned the famous purple and gold uniform for the last time against the Utah Jazz in his 1,566th and final game for the LA Lakers, bringing to an end a career spanning two decades.
he has won the Most Valuable Player awards, the accolade given the best-performing player in a regular season, Bryant won it in 2007-08, All-Star MVP Awards in 2001-02, 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2010-11 tying with Bob Pettit for the most in NBA history.
Bryant has been picked for the All-Star Game 18 times in a row. That is the longest streak in NBA history and only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with 19, made the All-Star Game more times.
Kobe Bryant as a football fan
‘I grew up as a huge AC Milan fan. Marco van Basten was my favourite player, Frank] Rijkaard, [Ruud] Gullit, and you know [Paolo] Maldini was just getting started, and [Franco] Baresi.’ Bryant
Bryant’s love for the beautiful game stems from his upbringing in Europe. His father Joe is a former NBA player and moved his family to Rieti in Italy to continue playing professional basketball. Bryant was just six at the time but became fluent in Italian during his eight years there. A man of many talents on and off the court, Bryant can also speak Spanish.
In November, the two-time Olympic gold medallist wrote an open letter to basketball thanking the sport for the opportunities it gave him.
‘You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream,’ one paragraph read. ‘And I’ll always love you for it. But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer. This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.’
Goodbye and thank you, Kobe.