On Kobe Bryant’s Pending Retirement

Darius Soriano —  November 30, 2015

We all knew this day was coming. From the minute Kobe started talking about basketball as work rather than the steps along the way to being great, I knew we were closer than he was letting on. As soon as he started to talk about “if my mind changes“, I knew we were closer still. And so, on a Sunday afternoon a few hours before an early evening match up against the Pacers, Kobe made clear what we all were seeing through the previously murky messages.

His body could give no more; this season would be his last.

While the emotions swirled in me, to be honest, I smiled a little.

I am the same age as Kobe Bryant. We graduated high school the same summer. When I went off to college for my first Fall quarter, he went off to training camp to start his rookie campaign with the Lakers. Twenty years is a long time. I have earned a degree and had several jobs in that span. Kobe has had one: Guard/Forward, Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe is one of the greatest players I have ever seen play basketball. I grew up in the era before league pass, before internet streaming, before ESPN was really even a thing people cared about. With that, my memory of how things were can be, well, a bit foggy at times. But I do remember. I remember the showtime Lakers. I remember Bird’s Celtics, the Bad Boy Pistons, Dream’s Rockets, Stockton & Malone. I saw the rise and sustained brilliance of Michael Jordan. I have seen the entire careers of Kobe’s contemporaries and the greats who came after.

I am not into rankings. But Kobe’s name is in the discussion with those other guys. Where it falls exactly is a debate those who care about such things can have. He was undeniably great and his exploits came on the team I root for. Seeing (essentially) every minute of his career meant countless more good moments than bad ones, and some moments so great they are difficult to explain to people who have never experienced a singular talent, on your team, playing at a level even higher than the ridiculously elevated stakes.

Not everyone sees it this way, of course. Fans of opposing teams never warm to the guy who throws the daggers. Even some fans of the Lakers always wanted it to be different. They wanted more passing, fewer contested jumpers, a better relationship with Shaq, an easier job for Phil, and countless other gripes that were all rooted in truth. Truth we can all acknowledge because we understand the game. Truths that make up the player he is, was, and will be remembered as.

This is the complexity of rooting for Kobe. He has done things his way. He led through confrontation and played a style that could be jaw dropping in its technical expertise and execution while aesthetically sour all at the same time. He would over-pass when people told him he shot too much and shoot…well, whenever he wanted the rest of the time.

He was a dichotomy of a player. Someone who will always be remembered for one-of-a-kind scoring binges, but whose best, singular plays might have been passes. He will forever be known as the hard-ass teammate who could be insufferable to those who did not walk the line he established, but also the leader who took guys under his wing and mentored them behind the scenes to help them improve their games.

The last few years have been difficult to watch. The current one especially so. From the injuries to the poor play to the hubris, it’s not been a good look for…anyone, really. And maybe it was always going to be this way. He pushed his body as far as it could go and now it’s no longer responding. He spent an entire career playing to the idea he could be better than what others thought he could, so much so it became an ingrained part of his approach to the game. There is no turning that off. He suffers for all of it now — with repaired tendons, sore joints, missing cartilage, and a brain that keeps looking for the tactical solution that cannot be executed. Not anymore, at least.

But this is not how I will remember him. Not this version, in 2015, trying to do more than he’s capable, on a team which needs him to try to be less, playing for a coach who seems to think the player can still do even more than that. No, I will remember the player he was, the one who ran roughshod over the league, imposing his will on the game, and achieving more than anyone thought a preps-to-pros guard taken 13th overall ever could.

This, as much as the rings and all the records, will likely be his lasting legacy. For a generation of players, Kobe was the guy they looked up to. Paul George and Kevin Durant are just two examples, but they are important ones. They serve as a bridge from this current crop of great players to the next and Kobe influenced them as much as anyone.

While we all saw this coming, I did not think I we would be talking about this in late November. I thought it would be some random June afternoon, maybe before the draft, where he finally let everyone know he was done. But there was a moment in the Portland game that made me think it might come soon.

Kobe had caught the ball beyond the arc at the top of the circle. He pump-faked and got his man in the air. He sort of dipped his shoulder, then elevated with the hope of drawing a foul call while still getting the shot off. The whistle never blew and the shot missed terribly. Kobe glanced at the ref, befuddled, then sort of had this look on his face as if to say “this doesn’t work anymore.” It was a cross between frustration and acceptance. The next day, he made his announcement. I am not saying these events are linked, but the two will never fully be separated in my mind.

There are still 60-and-some-odd games left in the season. Kobe will try to play in most of them and hopefully his body allows him to see that final night against the Jazz at Staples Center on April 13th. Hopefully he can have that one last ovation from a crowd who also knows it’s time, but wants to hold on anyway. Twenty years is a long time. Thanks for the memories.


Darius Soriano

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to On Kobe Bryant’s Pending Retirement

  1. Great, honest write-up, Darius. I will remember the pure joy and elation on Kobe’s face at the end of the last championship, not these past few years.

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  2. TempleOfJamesWorthy November 30, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    When Kobe tore his Achilles tendon in April 2013, I strongly hoped that he would retire.

    Not because I dislike Kobe, but because I thought that game was a fitting way for him to leave the sport. Perhaps Kobe’s greatest positive quality as a player was his indomitable competitiveness (which, unfortunately, too often translated into “I should shoot more”, but that’s a separate issue). Having Kobe end his career with a game where he made two free throws with a torn Achilles tendon seemed like an appropriate capstone to what his NBA career was all about.

    In the wake of the injury (and his advancing age), Kobe was going to have to transition to the role of secondary player/elder statesman/mentor, and Kobe openly stated that he didn’t ever want to be the ring-chaser/hanger-on that many NBA vets eventually become.

    And we’ve seen over the past few year exactly how the scenario of Kobe not wanting to admit his mortality, but also not wanting to give up the game, has played out. Many have noted the Kobe is the most Jordan-like player the league has seen next to Jordan himself. The past few years have been Kobe emulating Jordan’s Washington Wizards period. It wasn’t a good look for either of them.

    So, Kobe, thank you for 15+ years of NBA excellence and your contributions to seven Lakers teams which made the NBA Finals. Over time, we’ll forget about your post-Achilles-tear phase and revel in what you accomplished before then (much like nobody brings up Jordan on the Wizards or Willie Mays on the Mets). Enjoy your retirement tour and good luck.

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  3. Great write up…

    If even Kobe cannot convince himself he can still really hoop, it must really be time to retire. He has been able to play at an unimaginable level for so long and through numerous injuries that easily sidelined other players for multiple games…and definitely should be celebrated for this. But there must be a better way for him to go out than proving to himself for 30+ minutes 70+ times that he can’t hang in the league anymore.

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  4. I grew up in the Showtime Era so it wasn’t easy for me to conclude this, as it feels like a betrayal of Magic Johnson. But considering all he did and all he could do on the floor, in my mind no one ever had a better career as a Laker than Kobe Bryant. The scoring, great passing, lock-down defense, rebounding, intellect — there was just nothing like him.

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  5. I’m an old timer. Kobe replaced Elgin Baylor as my favorite all time Lakers player. When I heard that Jerry West had traded a very good center in Vlade Divac for a high school prospect, I was in disbelief but intrigued at the possibility that Jerry recognized an opportunity to acquire a player earmarked for true greatness. It turns out that the Logo knew exactly what he was doing.

    The details are a little foggy, but the first time I saw Kobe play was in the pre-season of his rookie year. I do distinctly remember that early in that game, Kobe shook his man and came through the middle of the lane and threw down a ferocious dunk. I’ve been rooting for him ever since.

    As Darius mentioned, it’s a beautiful thing when a transcendent talent helps to lead your favorite team to the heights of NBA success.

    As I watched Kobe’s post game news conference last night, it made me feel good to see him at peace with his decision. As he mentioned, he has worked his arse off to be able to regain his form, but his body just won’t cooperate. He knows that he gave his all.

    Thanks for the entertainment Mamba! It’s been a heckuva ride.

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  6. A Horse With No Name November 30, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Awesome, spot on write up, Darius. To be a laker fan is to suffer from an embarrassment of riches. Lucky for me, I went to my first laker game as a little kid and saw West and Wilt. It’s been an unbreakable fandom since. West, Magic, Kobe. Take your pick. That’s the holy trinity of g.o.a.t.s that live atop the purple and gold peak jutting highest in the sky of the basketball Himalayas. The view from here is unparalleled.

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  7. Kobe was the talk of basketball in PA back in my day. Saw him play on TV, since they always televise the Hershey championship games. He was truly amazing, a man among boys. He was playing at a level that I wasn’t seeing at the college level his senior year. It was exciting at the time to have a guy go straight to the NBA.

    Glad he announced it and has made the decision his body already made for him. We wouldn’t win that many more games with him off the court regardless, so he can go out gunning. Our team really lacks defense across the board, even Hibbert isn’t impressing me much and most games that’s about all he is good for–given he doesn’t even rebound well. Like many, I wait for next season for the rebuild to take shape. I will watch some Kobe NBA championship games, rather remember him that way, really don’t like seeing this version of him on the court anymore–don’t understand how anyone can enjoy a Laker idol that clearly can’t perform anymore.

    So the new Laker Icon mantle will open up, it will be interesting to see who picks it up. I hope its someone that plays defense with tenacity just like Kobe did in his younger days, not another James Harden–who rests on Defense type.

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  8. In terms of ranking great players Kobe will always cause arguments. But in terms of impact Kobe’s name will echo for years to come. Kobe is the guy who connected the supposed rough and tumble 90’s to the modern 3 point happy analytics style of ball. Kobe’s the mythical emperor whose reign connects the Roman Empire to the Byzantine Empire. He’s both old school and new school at the same time. Analytics lovers hate him, but so does Charles Barkley. Only Kobe could pull that off.

    I remember being barefaced 19 year old at Long Beach State when Kobe played his first summer league game as a Laker. I was working the concession stand in the Pyramid. My coworkers and I would sneak away during the game to catch a glimpses of the then teenage Kobe. The electricity in the building that day was unreal. I still remember it like was yesterday. That same electricity followed Kobe his entire career. Every time he took the floor there was a feeling that something amazing could happen.

    The end of Kobe’s career is truly the end of an era.

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  9. My 7-year old son and I were watching the Kobe career highlight reel posted a days ago, and he made mention that the super stars like Kobe should get less points for making a basket because it is too easy for them. Kobe spent a career perfecting his craft such that the impossible shot became the “too easy” shot.

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  10. One of your best articles Darius, i too thought Kobe would wait until the summer but it was becoming increasingly obvious it was going to be earlier, i always was convinced this was it for him, i guessed his body was sending him messages, turns out I guessed right, truly one of the all time greats and partnof the Lakers Holy Trinity with the Captain and Magic, like i said before he is the last of his kind, we won’t see a player with his drive, attitude and agression in this era of “buddy buddy” superstars that want to get together for a easier path to a championship, Kobe was a Laker fan since his childhood and he got to leave the dream that any of us would kill for, like he said he bleeds purple and gold. I was remembering today Kobe winning a championship and performing at a high level with a broken finger on his shooting hand and dont get me started on his Achilles free throws, while so called superstars nowadays check themselves out of a Finals game because the AC is broken and it was “too hot” i remember that dunk he did on the then Hornets in that 1st round series in basically one knee, i remember those monster daggers against Phoenix in the WCF in 2010 and paddin Alvin Gentry in the butt, his 61 point game in the Garden, the 81 point masterpiece when he dropped 51 on MJ monster playoff games during the 3peat era all the way to those airball he shoot as a rookie against Utah how he was the best player on the planet from 2000 to 2010, now it’s time to go an close one of the most tremendous careers in the history of basketball and im grateful of the wisdom and vision of Jerry West and The Good Doctor for seeing greatness before all of us. His legacy is secured and set in stone…

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  11. so nosebleed seats for the april 13th game are now going for between 500 and 800$ US … bah

    im in Montreal and am planning a pilgramage to see a game in staples b4 kobe leaves but man it aint gonna be cheap

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  12. Kobe may be remembered for his transcendent scoring, but to have accumulated more assists than anyone else in his scoring zip code means he was pretty good at passing the rock.

    I can’t rank the Laker greats – I became a fan when Jerry West was drafted – simply because they were each unique and also added so much. That said, Kobe is certainly up there with the best.

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  13. If Kobe hit that turn-around fadeaway 3 over Paul George, I would have gone nuts! Much respect to Kobe. Glad to know he’ll still be playing out the season.

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  14. I for one cannot seem to finish reading all these post Kobe retirement announcement articles…not even this one by Darius. The inevitable predictable-ness of the insights from the authors and interviewees are already exhausting. Big part of it is that the announcement is not a surprise whatsoever. The only mild intrigue is that he changed his mind and said it now vs. end of the season.

    What is intriguing to me however, is anticipation that perhaps this will change the dynamics of the Lakers play the rest of the season. His minutes, Byron’s approach to the rotation, his attitude on the court, the young guys’ sense of ownership, and so on.

    I really hope Kobe has one more pleasant surprise in his story, stemming from his self-proclaimed pragmatism and willingness to be creative in problem solving, to find a way to evolve to be the most effective version of the current player.

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  15. What is intriguing to me however, is anticipation that perhaps this will change the dynamics of the Lakers play the rest of the season.

    ——

    What is intriguing to me is the impact it has on the FO. Is it liberating and free agents that were reluctant to join the Lakers are now more open to doing so that the issue of Kobe playing another year is off the table? Or, does it expose the FO in ways that the Kobe security blanket hide from view?

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  16. Que los puristas del idioma inglés me disculpen por volver a escribir -en español-, pero comprenderán que el momento, lamentablemente esperado pero nunca deseado, lo justifica.
    No quiero repetir conceptos ya leídos. Para muchos de nosotros -yo soy mayor que Darius- Kobe y los Lakers eran una sola cosa, y ahora tendremos que aprender a seguir siendo fans de los Lakers sin Kobe, y a realizar el duelo por la pérdida, ya que no podemos seguir siendo fans de Kobe sin Kobe.
    A los grandes siempre se le buscan los defectos, quizás para recordar que siguen siendo humanos. Pudo ser mejor aún? Tal vez. Pudo tener más anillos si la relación con Shaq hubiese sido mejor? Probablemente. Pero todo lo que logró lo logró por dos motivos: sus innegables condiciones técnicas, y su profesionalidad. En un mundo donde sobra dinero y faltan buenas mentes, Kobe fue el mejor por su ética de trabajo, su concentración y su compromiso por el baloncesto. Trabajaba para dar todo de sí, sin guardarse nada y sin importar a quién debía enfrentar. Ese es su legado, reconocido e imitado por Paul George, LeBron James y por casi todos los que hoy mandan en la NBA.
    Qué le queda a los Lakers? Tres o cuatro muy buenos jugadores, que si siguen el ejemplo de Kobe y trabajan para obtener lo mejor de sí, serán desnivelantes porque tienen el potencial para lograrlo. Cómo acompañarlos para que los Lakers vuelvan a ser los Lakers, es análisis para otro día, si corresponde. Hoy el tema es Kobe.
    Mil gracias al genio que, desde tan lejos, convirtió mi simpatía por los Lakers en adhesión casi irracional. Mil gracias, Kobe Bryant!

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  17. I’m prepared to give the front office a pass and accept the argument that superstars didn’t want to play with an aging, ball dominant Kobe Bryant.

    Short of Ben Simmons walking through the Lakers door next summer, this team needs a major overhaul and the pressure will be on the front office to bring in impactful players. There will be no more excuses.

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  18. Can’t Kobe just redouble his efforts even more and come back to win two more rings and another MVP award and chase the all time scoring record – outdueling Lebron in the Finals, singlehandedly eliminating the Warriors this season after willing the Lakers into the playoffs after the 2-20 start.

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  19. More than half of my life Kobe has been there playing for.mi favorite team, winning it all 5 times and giving us his 100% every night.
    Thank you Mr Kobe Bryant you made me happy a lot of times, thru 20 years of my life.

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  20. Darius this is a fantastic post! Thank you for penning such an honest and heartfelt recap of a truly remarkable athlete

    I’m sure Kobe will apply the same discipline and winning attitude to whatever he tackles in the next chapter. Mad respect to Mr Bean Bryant. And huge props to you Darius for putting in the hours and for keeping the quality of this site so high!

    Although I don’t post here often, I check in at least a few times per week, and am grateful for your write-ups and the high value discourse from many of the regular contributors to this site! Having FB&G will take some of the sting away of seeing Kobe ride off into the sunset. But as big a fan of Kobe as I am ..I am even more so a Laker’s fan and hope that some semblance of progress can be made this season. Although I have thought this before and been proven wrong it would seem that we can’t fall much further. However a loss to Philly tomorrow night would make me question that assertion 🙂

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  21. I thought it interesting that on the night that Kobe announces his retirement from basketball, Jordan Clarkson plays the best game of his young career — 22 pts. (8-15 shooting), 10 rebs., 6 assists, one steal, zero TOs. He excelled in every aspect of the game (except, perhaps, for defense which he is still learning).

    As such, there was something — to a degree — of a passing of the torch. At least, that’s how I saw it.

    With that in mind, the game against Indiana had something of the touch of a Hollywood script to it. There are many great movies in which the torch is passed from a protagonist to his (or her) successor: The Godfather, The King and I, All About Eve, the forthcoming new Rocky film, and many others.

    Clarkson certainly is no Kobe. Of course, there is no other Kobe. But the next generation stands in the wings. And, unless I’m mistaken, they’re getting more and more ready to take over. It could take a few years. But their time will come.

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  22. Thanks for the memories.

    Greatest Laker ever, bar none.

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  23. Jeanie on Max and Marcellus: Lakers record and missing playoffs unacceptable. Says her dissatisfaction has been communicated to Jim.

    Max and AK (in for Marcellus) commented that Lakers failure to sign free agents and roster built around cap flexibility has resulted in young talent on the roster. Agreed that Jim’s plan of Kobe, Melo and Aldridge would have been a mess. Are Jim and Mitch capable of taking the Lakers forward since the Lakers future (the kids) is not something they orchestrated? Max and AK are doubtful.

    Face it this FO talk is not going away. Partly because Jim and Jeanie won’t let it.

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  24. Well put, Darius. I haven’t been a fan of Kobe’s play over the past few years, but respect all the effort he put into coming back and of course the player that he was for so long. I too hope for a few vintage Kobe shooting nights and hope Byron finds a way to make it easier for that to happen.

    As for Jeanie, this season is bad enough without her airing her dissatisfaction in public. If she thinks her comments will make fans feel better, she’s mistaken. It only reminds us that the discord in the FO has not improved and is continuing to impede the road back to respectability.

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  25. We know Jim is a bust but what makes his sister qualified to run a sports company?. Appearing in Playboy?

    Only hope is Time Warner goes BK and no more $250 million a year and forcing the Trust to sell.

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  26. Having watched the Lakers since Jerry and Wilt won 33 in a row, I’ve seen a few players.
    If there ever was a player that mirrored Michael Jordan, it was Kobe.

    As many times as I’ve cringed at Kobe’s shot selection, I’ve more often marveled at his breathtaking athleticism – and, occasionally – his passing – and I’ve come to expect greatness every night out. Like one poster above whose 7-yr old said the game came too easily to Kobe, Kobe’s inevitable aging speaks to all of us.

    I’m saddened in the same way that Kobe is saddened – because I sense that his injuries have robbed him of a departure that at least for Kobe, could have approximated grace – chasing and catching Kareem. A few years ago I bet a friend that he’d finish ahead of Malone and Kareem in all-time scoring. And if he hadn’t been injured the last few years, he may have.

    I’m glad we saw as much of him as we did, and somehow it stills like he’s done too soon.

    Like some others here, I truly hope he can adapt his play and concentrate on getting as many assists as he can muster to help his teammates improve while he still can. That would be a graceful exit.

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  27. Darius you said it.20 years is a long time. im a die hard Laker and Kobe fan.I actually believed somehow Kobe could still find away to be an above average player with flashes of brilliance on nights that he had extra pep.I also looked at this year and said he needs to shake off tears of injury and rust, and waited for Kobe to defy everyone and again hush all critics.he finally couldn’t.im cool with that.think about it.Remember Blake Griffins Kia jump in the Slam dunk contest?you could see that car today and it still looks modern.Now,had Kobe jumped the car of his day what say a 96 oldsmobile cutlass.cutting edge for 96 right?look at that thing!its old.outdated.there’s not many around anymore.they are dinosaurs.google the image?sook it up that’s how long this man has been playing.he won bro.he defied time and made further than a car from 96 which has been a bucket.for years while he still played at championship Mvp levels 5 years ago before his injury streak of the last few years.Kobe Wins.

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  28. Just as Jordan couldn’t retire after his shot against the Jazz, Kobe couldn’t retire after his free throws after he tore his achilles. And I am glad he didn’t, because retiring then and there would have been just way too sad, and not the way you want to remember or celebrate Kobe. The Kobe I remember (he’s a year younger than me) is a Kobe that is defiant and wanted to not just see the writing on the wall, but bang his head against it to make sure that it was indeed a wall he couldn’t punch through.

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  29. Helluva job Darius. You’ve written so very well what nearly everyone feels.

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  30. As for Jeanie, this season is bad enough without her airing her dissatisfaction in public. If she thinks her comments will make fans feel better, she’s mistaken.

    I would say that depends on the sensibilities of the fan in question. The Lakers are on an 11-win pace, and the easiest part of the schedule is over. Rebuilding or not, that is a rough spot to be in.

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  31. “A few years ago I bet a friend that he’d finish ahead of Malone and Kareem in all-time scoring.:

    I did not bet on the thing, but I too thought he had a chance. But as for the rankings that Darius won’t venture into, even if Kobe had passed Kareem, no biggie, since right about now, Kobe is roughly 4,000 or so points behind and 2,000 or so missed field goal attempts ahead of Kareem, i.e,, if Kobe had passed Kareem, he’d still have far and away more missed field goal attempts. Kareem’s the poster boy for why you always take the elite C over the elite SG. I otherwise feel kinda bad for Malone, since because he never won a title, he gets none of the respect that he deserves.And not that it will please Robert at all, what with his rather unhealthy hate for the Spurs, but if Duncan can hold on at 10 PPG and play next season as well, he’ll pass Hakeem early next season to move into 10th all time and, again, if holds on until the end of next season, he’ll move into 8th, so still in the Top 10 when LeBron eventually passes him. On a final note, Dirk is coming up on Shaq, 203 points or so behind. And for a bonus freebie for Darius, re the ill advised shot, that’s what the MJ fans will say, since right about now, Kobe is 391 points ahead of MJ, but also some number over 1,000 missed field goal attempts as well.

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  32. For my money, this tribute to Kobe by Darius kicks tail on Ding’s over there at ahh… that other site.

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  33. As for Jeanie, this season is bad enough without her airing her dissatisfaction in public. If she thinks her comments will make fans feel better, she’s mistaken. It only reminds us that the discord in the FO has not improved and is continuing to impede the road back to respectability.
    _____
    I agree that this makes the FO look dysfunctional. That type of criticism should happen behind closed doors. It’s hard to imagine the Spurs acting that way. In addition to that, I think Jeanie often projects a sense of entitlement that is probably not what we need in the FO right now. She may be somewhat liable to the kind of thinking that automatically assumes giving Kobe that contract should have made us a contender because he’s Kobe and we’re the Lakers.

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  34. I’ve been a Laker fan since I saw Magic Johnson put up a triple double to win Game 1 of the 1991 NBA finals against the big bad Michael Jordan.

    I have followed Kobe throughout his remarkable career and I see him differently than the normal narrative of “He only wants to win and will do whatever it takes to win a championship”. The reason I say this is because I believe if that were true, he would have found a way to co-exist with Shaq and win more chips together. If that were true, he would have offered to take a reduced salary than the 2 year max extension he was given after tearing his Achilles so that the Lakers could go and sign more players to improve the roster. He wants to win but only it seems as long as he wins his way.

    The guy has other flaws as well. He shoots too much and takes inefficient shots. He didnt shoot against Phoenix in a game 7 just to prove a point when critics said he was shooting too much. He wont retire mid-season not because he wants a farewell tour but I believe because he wants to collect the remainder of his 25M$ salary this season.

    However what you cannot take away from him, is the hard-work and dedication he put into perfecting his craft as well as pushing through adversity in the pursuit of greatness. His exquisite footwork. Countless hours of working in the gym practicing the fadeaways, postups, up and unders, etc. He went to Germany to get a procedure that was not available in the US just so he could try and improve his knee. Playing almost 48 minutes a night for a month trying to will that 2013 Lakers team to the playoffs before sadly blowing out his Achilles.

    He had so many injuries on his shooting hand one year that I seriously thought they were making up some of these injuries and there was no way an NBA athlete could play with those injuries. But he did. Even if it meant shooting left-handed. Even if it meant he had to re-invent his shot and have it be released from his middle finger rather than his index finger. He would attend sexual-assault charges in Colorado, fly cross-country and proceed to drop 30.

    It is a cliche but truly the NBA wont be the same without the Bean. Thank you for the memories Kobe.

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  35. Great tribute to Kobe.

    To me, Kobe is not the greatest Laker of all time. I still rank Magic ahead of him as he was able to dominate every position and, to my knowledge, never asked for a trade. I won’t discuss Elgin Baylor nor Jerry West as I never seen them play. Kareem was also a great but he didn’t start with the Lakers, so he can’t be at the top of that Lakers pantheon. Anyway, we can only hope that he has at least one more of “those” games left in him. I know I’ll be watching. There’s nothing more to add to what Darius said.

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  36. Patrick!
    Nice post.

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  37. I’ll remember Bean the way he wanted to be remembered – as someone who worked his tail off to extract every last ounce out of his body and his God-given ability.
    To me, he’ll be the greatest player ever – not because of his on-court exploits, but what he did off-court to prepare. He inspired me to be the best that I could be – not at basketball, but at life.

    Thank you Kobe – it’s been a privilege to watch you do your thing.

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  38. Kobe has to be one of the most competitive athletes of our era, he was talking championship every year even the years when the roster wasn’t good he didn’t care, he constantly improved, his post game as a guard almost mirrored mjordan, his defense was fantastic, these were obviously acquired through hard work in training, we thought mjordan was nasty, kobe took it beyond that, opponents hated him, he made them cry, he never quit, no one playing right now is close to his intensity, thats what defined his game, the kobe crazy face with the gritted teeth, that personality is what took him beyond, he did not back down on the court, he didn’t get along with certain teammates because he couldn’t understand how they could lack intensity. Hopefully the torch is passed in this perspective to these youngsters.

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  39. Just read your post Darius. Epic. Hope Kobe reads it. Should be the beginning of the book which no doubt will be written.

    Great job.

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  40. When I think of Kobe’s career, 2 song titles come to mind –

    I Did It My Way – Frank Sinatra
    Last Of A Dying Breed – Scarface

    I’ve been blessed to have witnessed Greatness for the 2nd time around as a Lakers fan.

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  41. End of an era….hopefully one of the young guys have what it takes to take the throne. From West to Kareem to Magic and then to Kobe. Lakers need to find that generational talent. Last time there was no such talent was the 90s and we don’t want a repeat of that.

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  42. Having been his fan since his start, I have much love and respect for Kobe.

    I have stood firmly on his side through every one of the many stormy conflicts, and have argued myself blue with his million detractors.

    I will however be more at ease to speak these words when he actually retires, as of now it’s like speaking at a funeral, a year in advance.

    Am I the only one that finds this farewell tour bizarre?

    Like a Broadway show paying tribute to an old legend.

    This is an NBA season after all, which has a purpose tied to competition and winning, either now, or in the future.

    This means we train our youth, and give them experience in closing games.

    I don’t mind an old veteran playing a mentor role, but to run the offence around him for the sake of sentiment, is simply ridiculous, and not only for the young core, but for Kobe, the coach, the front office, and the league itself.

    I know it sells tickets to the idol worshipers, yet I believe a vegas league of old vets would be a more appropriate venue for such a show, not an NBA season.

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  43. Those who claim that Kobe selfishly took the money at the the expense of the Lakers being able to team build conveniently forget that he took something in the neighborhood of $6M less per year than he was entitled to under the CBA. Any system that encourages senior employees to take less money so that their employers can benefit needs to be examined very carefully and perhaps re-evaluated.

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  44. Perfect Post Darius!!!!!!!!!!! Like you read my mind!!!!!!!!!!

    Kobe’s announcement was somewhat unorthodox and unpredictable. Even though we all know the end is near, the news was still sort of a shock because of the timing. Even so, if you saw “Kobe Bryant : Muse”, you could tell he was really ready to walk away.

    It seems that this announcement has really caused a noticeable sense of RELIEF for all involved. I think Kobe is relieved to get the word out and to see the end and embrace and even ENJOY it a little bit.

    Mitch looked VERY RELIEVED in his press conference. Sorta like a cumbersome weight was lifted from around his neck…..He accurately described the Lakers trying to develop their young core while also trying to accomodate Kobe in his 20th season as “AWKWARD.” Mitch seemed almost kinda giddy…….no somberness at all.

    I think that myself too as a fan am relieved. Now I get to watch Kobe finish his run on his terms KNOWING that we can move on to the next chapter and that bigger changes will lie ahead after this season. The clarity of the impending closure removes a little resentment I felt toward Kobe this season for perpetuating the suspense that he MAY play again. He even says he told MJ in the summer so he KNEW he was walking away months ago. I guess maybe he just wasn’t sure enough to tell the Lakers and the Fans. His press conference was so sincere you really feel for him. It was touching.

    I recall hearing Jerry West gush about Kobe when he was drafted…..That he had the BEST WORKOUT Jerry had EVER seen…..Then I recall after the deal Vlade refused to go to Charlotte and he was holding the trade up. Jim Rome said, “Get on the DAMN PLANE Vlade!!!!!” and I agreed. If Jerry was THAT blown away, this guys was gonna be special. Special was an understatement……If I have to rank, I have Kobe as the #2 Greatest Laker ever behind Jerry West and just ahead of Magic. Half of my life has been THE KOBE ERA….just an amazing run.

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  45. Regarding the FO, Jeanie Buss needs to KEEP HER MOUTH SHUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jeanie is PART OF THE PROBLEM!!!! She gets no free passes…….We the fans are not her shoulder to cry on about her brother. Don’t go running to the media to tell them YOU don’t like the way YOU as Team President are running things!!!!! It smacks of discord, instability, immaturity and DYSFUNCTION!! Is this what you learned at USC Business School???!?!?!
    Keep it in HOUSE you weakling!!!!!!!!!

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  46. Can someone post excerpts or a summary of why Pelton doesn’t have Kobe in his all time top 10?

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  47. Ill always remember callers to Chick’s pregame show asking ‘Do you think the Lakers should consider starting Kobe?’ Hard to believe, but true…

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  48. Lakafan is invoking SNARKY GEORGE for some Pelton scraps when he gets the chance!!!

    Darius, why can I not post negatively about Jeanie Buss?? Is it the mention of USC that keeps getting my comment banned??? Because that would be tragic………………

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  49. We all know he stayed too long. We all hated the contract. It’s the lakers fault for offering it. They saw they weren’t going to contend. His numbers were amazing before the Achilles. He signed the contract that summer. 2nd year of tws sports deal. But you have to take the good with the bad. His greatness was his belief in himself which was also his biggest weakness. He was excellent for 18 freaking years. It’s easy to dismiss him now cuz he’s washed. When I was a child and saw basketball for the first time Magic Johnson captured my imagination. Kobe was that for me in my teens. He played on my wedding night (game 2 of Sixers finals). Was on in the background in the hospital the day my first son was born (Grizzlies March 22, 2007 during his 8 game tear of 40 plus). He played 40 plus minutes 8 games in a row chasing the 8th seed and tore his Achilles with 2 games to go in the season. I’ve watched him not be able to stay on the floor at 35 and 36 while I personally struggle with my physical limitations after a torn ACL and getting older. He has provided me with thousands of hours of entertainment and mental vacations throughout my life. He’s a special athlete and I’ll always respect what he did for the lakers, my favorite team.

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  50. Yo Snarky George, Pelton has a new piece on how the Lakers can be great after Kobe…..

    Just sayin……..

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  51. Waiting for Darius to post new thread so folks can comment on article.

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  52. Classy move Snark Man!!

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  53. One late career year that to me defined Kobe was 2013. To me, those last few months of the season, I’ve never seen anyone pour their heart and soul into the game like Kobe did I know order to will his team to a playoff spot. Whether it was against Toronto where he had to launch 3
    Threes at the end of regulation on three straight possessions to get them to tie the game (also had game winning dunk in OT) or playing the ENTIRE game against Portland dropping 47 against Lillard. Or when he made the free throws after his Achilles injury to keep them in the game. It makes you wonder how many more years of THAT old Kobe we could have had had he not torn the Achilles at the end of that season. Regardless, despite how dis functional that team was with Dwight coward at center, there was so much beauty in watching what Kobe did that year and I think it defines who he was as a player. Doing whatever it takes to win and putting EVERYTHING into the game.

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  54. @Renato Afonso
    —–

    I in no means wish to argue your stance that Magic was the greatest Laker. That honor is opinion for each us, and my ranking Kobe No. 1 was by the closest of margins. I’m not going to suggest anyone is wrong or right on that front.

    That said, I will note that Magic Johnson did once demand a trade, and Jerry Buss responded by firing the head coach (Paul Westhead), whose schemes had been deemed too slow for Magic’s taste. The Pat Riley era was thus born.

    The interesting similarity in both instances was that the Lakers responded by making moves to improve the team, though in Kobe’s case I believe the foundation for improvement was already in place when he pitched his fit in 2007 — adding Pau a few months later was the final piece of the puzzle, and that may never have happened had Bynum not gone down in early 2008.

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  55. I became a Laker fan watching the Lakers vs Celtics back in the 80’s. I was a little kid who had no concept of a home team growing up in Long Island NY. I fell in love with basketball, watching the giant PG Magic handle the ball. For me he will always be number one in the Laker pantheon.

    However, I have never seen another athlete as dedicated to his sport as Kobe. He deserves to be in the conversation of not only greatest Laker of all time but, among the greatest NBA players of all time. Amazing to think it has been 20 years.

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  56. Jerry West is the most Lakery Laker there could ever be.

    Magic had the best spirit, a true champion’s attitude and the greatest teammate you could imagine.

    Elgin changed the game with a style of play that pulled the Lakers into the modern era of basketball.

    Kareem and Wilt and Shaq are the best of the big men and show how irreplaceably valuable a big man really is.

    Pau was (is) simply beautiful to watch play the game (IMO) as it should be played.

    Kobe – ? Might not be a lot of those things, frankly. But as a pure basketball player’s basketball player, a fully-rounded basketball playing specimen, who played every facet of the game, is there floating amongst the top few best ever, IMO.

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  57. Jerry West is the most Lakery Laker there could ever be.

    I hear you…but he is also currently a part-owner and consultant for the undefeated NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.

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  58. Simply beautiful, Darius! I don’t have words for this retirement announcement just a bundle of emotions.

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  59. This is a great post, honey. It actually made me a little sad. I still love me some KB.

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