Remembering Kobe Bryant one year after his death

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Remembering Kobe Bryant one year after his death
February 03
14:45 2021

It’s hard to believe, but it has already been one calendar year since the death of NBA legend Kobe Bean Bryant. Bryant, along with eight other people including his daughter Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in Calabasas, California.

The news of Bryant’s death shocked the world one year ago and to be honest, it still doesn’t seem real. It’s hard to believe that it has already been one year since the tragedy. I know Bryant was loved by many people, but as we have seen, he transcended sports in a way few athletes are able to do.

He was drafted 13th overall in the star-studded 1996 NBA draft that included Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Marcus Camby and Jermaine O’Neal. You could see and feel the star power emitted by Kobe from the moment he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets.

Luckily for us all, Bryant was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant came off the bench for his first two seasons in the league, backing up starters Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. However, he did make a splash as a rookie by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk contest and was voted to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

In his second season Bryant more than doubled his scoring average from his rookie year, from 7.6 to 15.4 ppg. During his sophomore season, he also became the youngest NBA All-Star starter in the history of the league.

The 1998-99 season was the breakout year for Bryant and the Michael Jordan comparisons began to be plausible. Several players before Bryant had been prematurely crowned the next Jordan, but Kobe was the only one who actually came close to His Airness.

Bryant went on to play a total of 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Lakers. His list of accomplishments is comparable with any other player in league history. Some of his accomplishments are 5 times NBA Champion (2000-02, 2009-2010), 2 times NBA Finals MVP (2009, 2010), NBA MVP (2008), 18 times NBA All-Star (1998, 2000-2016), 11 times All-NBA First Team (2002-2004, 2006-2013), 9 times NBA All Defensive First Team (2000, 2003-2004, 2006-2011) and 2 times NBA scoring champion (2006-2007), just to name a few.

Bryant was praised for his work ethic. He was well known as one of the hardest working athletes the game has ever seen. He was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he was at his very best for every game.

Current analyst and former player Jay Williams tells the perfect story of how hard Bryant worked at his craft. Williams was playing for the Chicago Bulls at the time and says he went to the arena to work out before the game that night. He saw Bryant already there and proceeded to work out. Williams finished his workout and looked over and Bryant was still working out. He says Kobe continued to work out for another half hour or so doing actual game moves. Williams goes back to the hotel and Bryant puts up 40 points against the Bulls that night.  

After the game, Williams asked Bryant why he was in the gym for so long and Kobe responded with, “Cause I saw you come in and I wanted you to know that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, that I am willing to work harder than you. You inspire me to be better.”

That was just one of the stories you heard about Bryant over the years, but for some reason that one always stuck with me, because it really speaks to how dedicated he was to being as good as he could be at his craft. And that unmatched work ethic was why he was the closest player to Michael Jordan we have and will probably ever see.

I want to be clear that I was not a big Kobe fan; however, I am a man who gives credit where credit is due and I say that he was one of the best to ever lace them up. He was one of the few players that I felt could score every time he touched the basketball. And when it came to crunch time, there was no one who was more feared than Bryant.

I have to give Bryant his credit in helping to globalize the game of basketball. He had fans all over the world and while playing, he was easily one of the top two or three most popular players in the world. He touched the lives of so many people during his era and I was not aware of how much he did so until after his death.

The tremendous outpouring from not only diehard fans, but casual and non-basketball fans as well, spoke to his popularity. I do not mean to minimize the death of anyone, especially during the time of this pandemic. Also, an athlete’s death does not mean more than anyone else’s, but it seems we lost a lot of popular and hall of fame athletes in 2020 and yet somehow, Bryant’s death still resonates the most.

John Thompson, Don Shula, Gale Sayers, Paul Horning, Bob Gibson, Lute Olson, Chris Doleman and Bobby Mitchell were some of the well-known sports figures that passed away in 2020. When it comes to Bryant, his death seems to hit harder for some reason. Maybe because he was so young and had just recently retired, or that he looked to be thriving in his career after basketball just as much as he did on the court.

Kobe didn’t waste any time with his post-basketball career. In 2018, Bryant won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film as the executive producer of “Dear Basketball.” The film was based on a letter Bryant wrote for the Players’ Tribune upon deciding to retire from the league after the 2015-16 season.

Bryant also created a series for ESPN called “Detail” where he would break down game film in a way that would allow even the most casual basketball fan to understand what is going on. The thing that made the series entertaining was that Bryant pointed out things in the film that the player did wrong or improved upon, things that only a student of the game would notice.

“I generally pick a player who I believe is going to have some serious challenges in the upcoming game or that series. I didn’t want to do a show that is highlighting things that have been done well, or I don’t want to highlight games where a player goes off for 45 points and show all the good stuff that he did to score 45 points. Because that’s not how I watched film. If I had a game where I had 60 points, I’m not looking at the things I did right. I’m trying to find every little thing that I did wrong and looking at the issues I’m going to have in dealing with the Celtics’ defense and how I can potentially solve that problem. That’s what the “Detail” series is. 

“In terms of how it comes together, we sit and watch the game, we’ll pull the clips and then once we pull the clips, I go into a room here in the studio and we put the clips up on the laptop. I have a microphone in front of me, I hit the play button, and then what you see on the show is me recording it in real time. There’s no thought process of what I’m going to say; what you see on the show is me watching it for the first time, right then and there. Just like I was breaking down film when I was playing back in the day. That’s the experience you’re getting,” Kobe said about the show in an interview with in 2018.

We as fans have never had the opportunity to see film being broken down in that manner. It was a joy to watch him break down film and notice mistakes and ways a player could be better that you would have never been able to notice on your own.

The death of Kobe Bryant was definitely a tough pill to swallow, not only because of what he did on the court, but also for the family that is still here. His daughter Gianna died along with him on that helicopter flight. 

The memory of Bryant will live on forever and he was definitely one that was called home too soon.

About Author

Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors