On Sunday morning the realm of sports as well as the Boston Celtics mourned the tragic death of former NBA player and father Kobe Byrant, alongside his daughter Gianna and others whose lives were lost in a heart-rending helicopter accident.
Words cannot appropriately suit both the impact left on Earth within his 41 years of life and the utmost struggle to grasp the very fact of the matter that former Los Angeles Lakers star and noted Boston Celtics dominator Kobe Bryant was tragically killed in a helicopter accident on Sunday morning.
It was initially reported by TMZ and shortly confirmed by various other news outlets that indeed Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and others were tragically lost in a heart-breaking accident that froze the entire sports community from the moment news broke.
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I myself refused to buy into the story along with the multi-thousand tweets that flooded my feed early yesterday. To believe that the great Black Mamba himself had his life cut so short following his 2016 NBA retirement was an inconceivable story that left my stomach aching for both him and his family.
Bryant partook in transcending the Los Angeles Lakers, leading them to a new era of LA basketball.
Growing up a Celtics fan in the streets of Boston, Bryant was both essential and frustrating to tolerate as an opponent.
1996 Pre-NBA Draft Workout
Bryant who was 17 years old at the time, and had recognition alongside to his advantage. In fact, former Celtics scouting director stated, “there was nothing the kid couldn’t do.”
The great Red Auerbach was hesitant to snag Bryant with Boston’s sixth selection in the draft due to the fact that Bryant was making a not-so-typical leap from high school to the pros.
Yet for the man who would sit and smoke six+ cigars a day and even go as far as to punch an opponent owner in the face on an NBA court isn’t bold enough to take the Kobe Bryant?
Unfortunately, that infamous photo of Bryant in Celtics green will always serve as a testament to what could’ve been.
2010 NBA Finals
A bounceback series that gave Kobe Bryant a shot at redemption to write his part in the rivalry storybook between the Celtics and Lakers.
The Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce were fresh off their 2008 NBA Finals just two years ago. A six-game series loss that fueled Byrant as soon as the final buzzer sounded in Boston.
"Bryant recalled that very moment years later during an ESPN interview, stating, “I remember when we were losing they played that Journey song [“Don’t Stop Believin”] and the whole arena started singing that song, and I hated the damn song for two years. Seriously.”"
That flip-the-script mentality is what made Kobe the Black Mamba. A mentality that two years later would propel Bryant to a 28.6 point, 8 rebound, 3.9 assist series which came down to the wire in seven back in 2010.
Despite coming face-to-face with a double-digit lead in the games second half, Bryant delivered one of his all-time vintage performances, scoring 23 points with 15 rebounds in a Lakers game seven win.
One that would seize banner 16 for Los Angeles and a second career NBA Finals MVP for Bryant.
TD Garden Farewell Tour Stop
On December 31, 2015, Kobe Bryant bid his final performance in the TD Garden, en route to his farewell tour from the sport of basketball.
In a 112-104 Lakers win, Bryant notched a double-double night with 15 points and 11 rebounds in a night where fans could not be bothered by a Celtics loss.
Bryant was showered by countless “KO-BE” chants from the TD Garden crowd, all in attendance for one of the most sentimental moments to take place within the building.
A well-scripted and executed final farewell from Bryant and Boston.
It was Kobe Bryant who not only opened the door to a new era of Lakers basketball but helped write a new chapter of the forever cherished Celtics-Lakers rivalry.
The Celtics released the following statement regarding Bryant’s passing:
"“There are no words that can convey the heartbreak the entire Celtics organization feels in the wake of the terrible loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Kobe was one of the greatest talents and competitors to ever play basketball, and his love of the sport inspired countless fans and players around the world. Our fans were fortunate to watch him as he contributed many memorable chapters to the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, which he treasured. We extend our deepest condolences to Kobe’s family, fans, and the entire Lakers organization, as well as all of the victims and families affected by this horrible tragedy.”"
In sports, and I use this word delicately, an enemy is almost high-priority whenever one’s team makes two NBA Finals appearances against an organization enriched with the historic rivalry cemented in the game’s history.
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That’s what Kobe Bryant gave the city of Boston. You hated him, but you respected his game. You couldn’t stand him, but you’d love to have him on your side.
There was an unbreakable swagger to the complex yet quintessential demeanor within Kobe Bryant. One that played pivotal in Bryant nailing an NBA-record 36 game-winning shots, making him one of, if not the definition of clutch for two decades of NBA basketball.
He turned his very own name into a coined term used by millions of fans, enthusiasts, and players around the world who can’t help but yell “KOBE” anytime they release a basketball from their hands.
Off the court, he was a father and husband. One greatly devoted to his daughter’s athletics and would even take a step further to use his influence to direct an audience towards women athletics such as the WNBA and women’s soccer.
Kobe Bean Bryant was more than a five-time NBA Champion. More than a three-time Olympic Gold-Medalist. More than your go-to 2K guy.
He was more than an athlete.
Thank you, Kobe. A legend now gone but never to be forgotten.