R.I.P. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant in 2015
Kobe Bryant in 2015

Yesterday, January 26, 2020, former NBA champion Kobe Bryant (photo ©Keith Allison) passed away in the crash of his helicopter in Calabasas, California. The accident killed all the people on board, including Kobe’s 13-year old daughter Gianna.

I wrote some information about Kobe Bryant’s career in the occasion of his NBA farewell game, played on April 13, 2016, a farewell celebrated by scoring 60 points. It was a finale worthy of a legendary career that began in 1996 when he joined the NBA without playing at college. The Los Angeles Lakers were already a strong team but there was always something missing to reach the highest levels. His presence contributed to the improvements and the “combo” with Shaquille O’Neal led to “three-peat”, three consecutive NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The relationship between the two players was often complex but in the good Shaq’s years on the field they were the tiger and the dragon. After the team was rebuilt, Pau Gasol’s arrival brought the Lakers back to the highest levels and Kobe Bryant was more protagonist than ever in the NBA titles won in 2009 and 2010.

With the USA national team, Kobe Bryant won the gold medal in 2008 at the Beijing Olympic Games and in 2012 at the London Olympic Games.

Unfortunately, the last years of Kobe Bryant’s NBA career were marked by several injuries that prevented him from playing regularly and above all from ending his career winning more NBA titles. He announced his retirement officially with a letter published on “The Players’ Tribune” platform on November 29, 2015. That letter became the basis for the script of the animated short film “Dear Basketball”, which in 2018 won the Oscar for best animated short film and the Annie, the award dedicated specifically to animation works.

Kobe Bryant was a special person for his life experiences that also passed for Italy following his father, also a basketball player. His obsessive devotion to basketball was the expression of a desire to play to always win, an inner fire difficult to approach even among the great sports champions. His attitude and his being different from the others also brought him criticism but the mentality that earned him the nickname “Black Mamba” was what led him to victories and made him deserve the respect of fans, teammates, coaches and opponents.

The news of Kobe Bryant’s death, made even more tragic because his daughter Gianna was with him, spread like a hurricane far beyond the world of sports. A flash mob led a large number of fans outside the Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers’ home. There are really a lot of people mourning a champion who, in just 41 years of life, has left a mark like very few could.

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