Kobe Bryant, who officially retired last Wednesday night with a 60-point game finish, has carved his place in basketball history with 20 glorious years of play.
He had a career total of 1,346 games in the regular season – scoring 60 points in six of them – and won five championship rings. He was picked in 15 All-NBA Teams, and emerged as the only player in the league’s history with over 30,00 points, 6,000 assists, and 6,000 rebounds.
Despite having had a career of impressive stats and setting new records every time, the 37-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star is just like the rest of us: had his lowest lows along with the greatest highs. Through it all, he stood by the person he aimed to become – an inspiration for the rest of us who seek to be something from nothing.
Here are five ways that the Black Mamba showed that he’s no different from dream chasers like us:
- He heeds the call of destiny. At age 18, Kobe elected to turn pro straight out of high school at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia. The Charlotte Hornets selected him as the 1996 draft’s 13th overall pick and traded him to the Lakers on the same day, and after less than a year he bagged the slam-dunk crown at the All-Star Game at that young age. Call it foresight or something else, but sometimes following your fate is all it takes.
- He is willing to get schooled. In 1996, Kobe first faced basketball legend Michael Jordan during a Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls match. Looking back, he said he was “willing to challenge and learn” from the NBA all-time great, acknowledging how Michael spoke to him and helped him a lot.
- He persists in the face of pain and challenge. Talent wasn’t the end all, be all for Kobe. He had the grit and tenacity, as demonstrated in a 2013 game when he made two free throws despite having recently torn his Achilles’ tendon while up against the Golden State Warriors.
- He channels frustration into winning. There was a time when Kobe outscored a whole team: he racked 62 points by the end of the third quarter while the opposing team Dallas Maverick’s players combined had 61. He revealed that that he was so down with their previous night’s loss that he willed himself to victory. “I was very angry, I felt like I wanted to come out and send a message, that we’re going to dominate at home,” he said.
- He is faced with the tough decision of when to quit. “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,” said Kobe in his retirement announcement back in 2015. And he did hang up his jersey as he deemed fit and timely.
It’s #MambaOut now, but the lessons and inspiration remain.
Image: Alexandra Walt | Flickr