Cleat Geeks

The Lakeshow Weekly: Mamba Out

60 points for the Mamba in his last career game ever. What a storybook ending to one of the most controversial athletes of the last decade. Twitter was buzzing the day of the game. So much love for Kobe and so much hate. The Nike commercial summarizes what was a love/hate relationship Kobe had with basketball fans everywhere.

It’s not easy to put into words what Kobe Bryant meant to the NBA. 20 years of dominance which included 7 NBA finals appearances. His killer instinct was unmatched by anyone other than Jordan. Kobe Bryant was this generations Michael Jordan. From 1999-2010 Kobe won five of the eleven possible championships. Countless players have said they modeled their game after Kobe.

We shouted “Kobe” as we tossed something into the trash. Like Messi, Tiger Woods and even Wayne Gretsky, he transcended the sport. Even if you didn’t follow basketball you knew who Kobe Bryant was. For those of us fortunate enough to be Laker fans, he was a constant source of excitement. Whether he was hitting the buzzer beater against Phoenix or throwing up the Alley to Shaq we loved every moment. The 81 point game and losing to the hated Celtics, we felt like we were part of the team. Derrick Fisher and Shaq, to Smush and Kwame we experienced it all.

Out of all the things that can be learned from Kobe’s career, setting aside basketball and all five rings for just a second, is the work he put in to get into the pinnacle of success. The story that sticks out to me about Kobe’s work ethic is the story as told by a trainer he met at the 2008 Olympics. According to the trainer, after giving out his number to Kobe he received a call at 4:15am. When he arrived Kobe was drenched in sweat, shooting. After an hour workout the trainer left and returned later that morning for the first scrimmage at 11am. He found Kobe, still shooting. Kobe had been shooting since 4:15 am, “I wanted 800 makes before I stop” he said. The work ethic Kobe put into every aspect of his game is admirable to say the least.

There are many people that don’t believe he is one of the all time greats, but how can you not respect that work ethic? I think he is top ten all time easily. But even if in your eyes he isn’t, you can’t deny he earned every single accolade he received. Athletes with his work ethic are few and far between, he is a far cry from today’s more modern athletes. Mediocrity was never once part of his vocabulary. He wanted to be the best at his craft isn’t that at the very least to be respected? Many former teammates and players have remarked on how hard he worked, yet in a conversation with a non Kobe fan that part is ignored, it’s all about how selfish he was. Sure he was a “jerk” but isn’t that what was required to be the best? Kobe didn’t care to be friends, he wanted to win. It’s all part of the human personality; you want someone who doesn’t care about anything other than winning? It should be assumed he WILL NOT care about ANYTHING other than winning. Not friends, not being buddy-buddy and telling you what you like to hear, not coddling you when you fail, but pushing you to the brink of exhaustion in order to win. That’s what Kobe brought to the game. That’s why he is one of the most iconic players in the history of sports. Though where he stands all time will always be debated, you have to understand Kobe worked like his life depended on it. The cherry on top? His last statistical play in his prestigious NBA career was an assist.

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