I never thought I would see the day but it’s always hard to see everyone go, particularly professional players who are going to retire.
There are a lot of professional athletes who have gone to the process of retirement and playing their final game in their league from Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, Michael Jordan from his first retirement with Chicago then finally settling down with the Washington Wizards, Randy Couture in the UFC, and a whole lot more in the world of sports.
For this season in the NBA, Kobe Bryant finally announced that this will be his last season in the NBA. I am not really a fan of Kobe or the Los Angeles Lakers because when Kobe finally plays his last game, basketball will never be the same. The same goes to players past their prime like Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade.
We will never see ball hogging the way Kobe does and scoring a lot of points and carrying the Lakers by himself. We will never see memes that really makes Kobe Bryant the most selfish player in the league and such.
In reflecting his highlights, we would surely miss double-double performances and that night he scored 81 points against the Raptors which could have been better if he scored those 81 points on the road than his domain in Staples Center. We would never forget the night he has surpassed Michael Jordan’s career points against the Timberwolves last season then Michael Jordan himself making his statement congratulating Kobe surpassing his career points afterwards. The game in the Beijing Olympics where he really carried the team 2008, scoring big against Spain and China and for Laker fans, the season where the Lakers got their sweet revenge against the Celtics in 2010 in which Kobe earned his fifth NBA championship which drove him to pursue his sixth title that would place him next to Michael Jordan. I give a lot of credit to Kobe Bryant for reviving the Celtics-Lakers rivalry not just the Celtics big three of that year with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce when the two teams met each other in 2008 and 2010.
Every player comparison in the NBA is a never ending debate because at first, two players would only start with Bryant and Jordan then someone would bring up LeBron James, even Stephen Curry (who is really on a role recently).
If we would only talk about Kobe and Michael, they are generations apart, even if they have played against each other when Kobe was getting started with his career in the NBA because for others (myself included) Kobe is the only player worthy to be compared to Michael Jordan when it comes to performance or how they play on the court. Kobe has attempted to play like Michael in several games and it’s not that hard to find those side-by-side video comparisons of Kobe and Michael playing on You Tube. As for their achievements, they are far apart even if Kobe has surpassed Jordan’s career points because the six rings of Michael truly sets them apart.
When it comes to Kobe and LeBron, I hate them both but on a serious note they only show passion and precision on the court carrying their team to win almost every game and the go-to guys of their teams. But if there’s one thing that makes LeBron different than Kobe, it’s loyalty. Kobe no matter what has happened with the Lakers never wanted to go out of L.A. and be with a group of better teammates. Unlike LeBron who went to South Beach to be with team mates who can really help him then earned his first title in 2012.
As the NBA season goes on, Kobe is on his farewell tour. I haven’t watched any Laker game just to see if teams are giving him farewell gifts like a rocking chair which Kareem Abdul-Jabbar received during his retirement ceremony at the Forum, Mariano Rivera also got a rocking chair made of broken bats that he broke during his tenure, and Derek Jeter got farewell presents also from various teams like his teammate Rivera and standing ovations especially when Jeter played his last game at Fenway Park where Red Sox fans showed him respect and appreciation despite that he is a Yankee and in a basketball context, I’m looking forward on how Celtics will receive Kobe in his last road game at the Garden later this month on December 31 (Manila Time) and other teams that might honor him. With the NBA already down with one month, I don’t see the Lakers going to the playoffs again with that kind of lineup and dead last in the standings (3-15) of the Western Conference, relying only with key players like D’ Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson may not seem a fitting exit for a player like Kobe for some people but like many players before Kobe who have gone through the process, many of them did not have a Hollywood ending.
We can’t tell how many highlight games will Kobe have in the next couple of games or how many points will he put up to keep the Lakers in the hunt for the NBA Playoffs but one thing’s for sure, the NBA will never be the same again when he goes. As for retiring a jersey number, retiring number 24 is only fitting him since he made a lot of moment wearing number 24 for Laker fans.