LOS ANGELES—After lauding Kobe Bryant’s talents for the first 17 years of his career, it all came to an end on Wednesday.
Kobe Bryant ended the game with 60 amazing points for his Lakers in a 101-96 win over the underachieving Utah Jazz, and this game was a microcosm on why he always wanted his own team.
What’s ironic about the whole fiasco is that after watching 30 for 30 on Shaq and Penny, which highlighted Shaq leaving Orlando because he wanted to be the Alpha man in La La land, Kobe loyalists in management lobbied for Kobe to stay in town, and ultimately, booted the diesel out the door in 2004 all because Kobe wanted to be the Alpha man.
Kobe essentially had more power at the time because he was box office, and youth was on his side. Clearly management was looking at the future, but what we know today is that Shaq ended up winning a title on another team, the Miami Heat, before Kobe won his fourth title in 2009.
Still, a few mediocre seasons after the Shaq era, the ones that the Lakers had trouble getting out of the first and second rounds of the playoffs, the Lakers prestige started to reel a little bit. However, this is when the aura of The Black Mamba was born.
In Kobe’s first eight seasons with Superman, he averaged 21.6 points a game, but, with Shaq out of the picture, Kobe was finally free, averaging 28.5 points if you take away his last three injury plagued seasons.
It’s clear as day Kobe had an undying passion to never give up, which was illustrated by his 21.8 field goal attempts per game in the post-Shaq years. In his first eight seasons with the “Shaqtus,” he averaged 18.5 field goal attempts.
What does this all mean?
Kobe ended his career the way he wanted to end it. All one has to do is look at his last game, where he shot a whopping 22-of-50.
Earlier in his career, Kobe claimed his idol was Magic Johnson. But in all seriousness, his entire repertoire of moves is from the greatest player of all-time, Michael Jordan. His fade-away, reverse pivots in the post, his mid-range game, his tongue sticking out and even the way he shoots free-throws are all from Michael Jordan. His uncanny ability to play defense was a trait Jordan had as well.
Everybody wanted to be like Mike, and so did Kobe. Certainly Kobe didn’t want to be second to anyone.
After years of being in the shadow of Shaq, Kobe imposed his will, and wanted to show the world, doing it his way. This happened in the years after Shaq left, and it certainly happened in his very last game of his career.
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