So, it’s Kobe’s birthday. He’s 39 years young today and to celebrate the NBA posted this tremendous video of Kobe’s top play against every team he ever faced. What’s a nice touch is that we actually get multiple plays against some franchises who have moved or re-branded. So we get the Charlotte Hornets and the Bobcats, the Vancouver and Memphis Grizzlies, etc.
This thing is 11 minutes of pure fun. Seriously, sit back and enjoy.
— NBA (@NBA) August 23, 2017
One of the takeaways from the above, for me at least, is that while most of these are obvious, I might have included different ones for some of the teams. Like, I knew Kobe’s game winner against the Suns was going to be included, but I might have chosen one of these, too:
Even against the Blazers, his OT game winner to clinch the Pacific Division in Portland was huge and unforgettable. But, I might have chosen “the lob”:
There’s many other examples like this, but I think you catch my drift.
This also brings me to another point…Kobe really was a highlight king. Of course there was substance behind the flash; you don’t accomplish what Kobe did in his career or win at the levels he did as such a major contributor without having the foundational game as support.
But Kobe seemed to also have an innate ability to turn a mundane moment into a lasting memory. His combination of fundamental skill + flair for executing the spectacular made every night a must watch. You just never knew if he was going to hit an impossible shot, suck the air out of the arena with a majestic dunk, or, yes, offer late game heroics to pull out a win.
On that last point — and this should probably be its own post, but I don’t care — as the way people interpret and understand the game changes; as our collective values shift toward analytics, efficiency, and a re-imagination of the right way to play occurs, Kobe will be judged more harshly. His TS% or EFG% won’t stand out in comparison to guys like, say, Durant or Curry. His PER or other catch-all metrics might not place him as close to the top of all-time lists as some fans or (even) some analysts might like. I even know what the “clutch” numbers say.
For me, though, I saw Kobe’s entire career. And I know what I felt when watching him play; what I felt when a game was close; what I sensed the other team feeling in those same situations. And those things matter too. Or at least they do to me. For a long stretch, there were few players as feared and respected as Kobe Bryant. Coaches schemed him that way and players responded to him that way. No, he didn’t hit every shot. And, in looking back, I really couldn’t care less about that.
Kobe gave me a feeling when I watched him that went well beyond the numbers — some of which were damn great too, I should add. And, for that, I’ll remain forever thankful.
So, Happy Birthday Kobe. You glorious S.O.B. You gave so many fans 20 years of unedited greatness and a bunch teams the business. As the video above attests to.