Alex Furtado | Staff Writer
Kobe Bryant dramatically burst into the mainstream and came to play in the National Basketball Association in 1996, straight out of high school. He will have been a prominent fixture in the league for twenty seasons after the end of this 2015-2016 season. This will also be his final season. Undeniably, Bryant has left a lasting impact that has been felt by many people, including plenty of students here at Livermore High School.
Bryant was the same age as many high school seniors when he made the decision to play basketball for a living for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996. Some fans have watched Bryant play from the time they were little until this very day.
Some remember him as a young player going up against Michael Jordan, Bryant’s childhood idol. Others remember him teaming up with Shaquille O’ Neal and head coach Phil Jackson to bring the city of Los Angeles a three-peat from 2000-2002 before an ugly feud erupted between Bryant and Shaq ended the dynasty. There are the fans that think of Bryant as the aging “Black Mamba,” a nickname that he gave himself that teamed with Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, and the controversial Metta World Peace (formerly named Ron Artest) to bring the Lakers two more NBA championships in a three year span from 2008-2010.
Plenty of fans see Bryant as a ball hog, unwilling to pass the ball and wanting to take every single shot. He’s been accused by former players such as Michael Jordan himself of ripping off Jordan’s moves on the court.
Bryant has earned many reputations over the years for many different reasons. His accolades are also numerous. He’s a five time NBA champion, two time Finals MVP, 2008 NBA MVP, two time scoring champion, 17 (about to be 18) time All Star team selection, and four time All Star MVP, amongst dozens of other awards and records. This season, however, has been a rough one for Bryant. He’s having by far his worst season. He’s shooting .306% from the floor, and a so far NBA record low .210% from three point range at the time of this writing. He’s averaging 16.2 points per game. All of those statistics are personal career lows.
Bryant’s retirement came as a shock to many people. His Dear Basketball speech was both uplifting and touching to read. “I played through the sweat and hurt/not because the challenge called me/but because you called me.” Bryant continued: “You gave a six-year-boy his Laker dream 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.”
Bryant’s retirement has impacted some students at Livermore High School. One student, Karl Williams (grade 12), expressed his feelings about Bryant’s retirement in an interview. “I started watching Kobe when he had an afro and was wearing the number eight.” Williams went on to say, “I honestly believe Kobe should’ve retired a couple years ago, he could’ve saved himself from how bad of a season he’s having. But in my opinion he’s the greatest next to Michael Jordan.”
When asked if there’s anybody who could fill Bryant’s massive void, Karl responded quickly, stating, “Steph Curry, he’s probably the best player in the league right now.” Tanner McShea (grade 11) gave his honest view on Kobe. “I think Kobe retiring this year is a very good decision for him. He’s not doing very well this year.” He also went on to say that “I didn’t watch Kobe as much because I didn’t like how much he doesn’t pass the ball. His shooting skills are amazing but I don’t agree with how he’s said that his teammates have to earn a pass from him.” McShea believes that Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook could fill the void Bryant leaves behind.
Regardless of how you see him or remember him, Kobe Bryant will always be a legendary figure in the world of sports.