Kobe Bryant was honored at half-time yesterday, surrounded by past top NBA players Karim, Shaq, Jerry West, Iverson, Worthy, Russell, etc., etc., adoring fans and current Laker and Golden State players. His two jerseys, numbers 8 and 24, were retired and hung in the rafters . He and his wife and three daughters sat in floor seats at mid-court, watching the game and waiting for the half-time ceremony. At half-time, Kobe’s “Dear Basketball” short film appeared on the jumbotron and then Magic Johnson talked for several minutes about Kobe and his Laker career, even identifying Kobe as the “Best Laker Ever”. I’m not sure I agree with that, Magic, but he was certainly one of the very best!
I wonder what the young Laker players thought as they performed in front of so many great players and, of course, Kobe, and did so with excitement and desire, playing against the likes of Durant and Klay of the world champ Golden State Warriors. They handled themselves very well, losing by only 2 in overtime.
After Magic’s introduction speech, Kobe stepped up and spoke eloquently and from his heart. His main messages were to thank the players who came before him, to thank the fans and the media and his family and to stress that it’s not the destination but the journey that makes the dream a reality.
Thank you, Kobe, for the 20 years, 5 championships, 7 trips to the finals, one regular season MVP, two Finals MVP’s, six 60-plus point games, twenty-six 50-plus point games, 18 all-star games, nine All-Defensive First Team selections and, of course, the 81 point game vs. the Raptors in 2006. You are an amazing defender, a great closer and all around one of the best players to ever play in the NBA!
Some people bring up his career shooting percentage in an effort to challenge his greatness, but how often did Kobe get a pass from a teammate when the shot clock was about to expire? Not that he minded, but it was often and hoisting up those late clock shots certainly affected his overall field goal percentage.