By Ikeem Boyd
As a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, Kobe Bryant’s decision to retire from the game of basketball is bittersweet.
He’s my favorite player of all time and played a huge role in raising five championship banners.
Kobe is the Lakers; the Lakers are Kobe’s team. That’s just the way that it’s always been for the entirety of my fandom and most of my life.
I’ve grown up with Kobe, and I can’t fathom an NBA season without him. Like every other Laker fan, and basketball fan for that matter, I’ll be sad that he’s gone. But at the same time, Bryant has left us all with great memories and he deserves to be celebrated for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.
The current version of Kobe Bryant is hard to watch. Seeing Bryant shoot 30 percent from the field on a nightly basis is tough.
His decision to retire is the right one. It’s not only best for Bryant as an individual, but it’s also best for the Lakers as franchise.
The Lakers can now focus on re-building the team around their young core of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.
There’s always been this great debate about who’s the greatest basketball player of all-time. Let me preface what I’m about to say, by stating that I was born in 1992.
When Michael Jordan was dominating the NBA and winning championships with the Chicago Bulls, I was a young kid. I didn’t follow or fully understand the game of basketball then.
Even though I didn’t witness the Jordan era, I’m aware of his greatness, what he accomplished and what he did on a global scale for the NBA and game of basketball.
With all that being said, Kobe Bryant is the closest thing to Michael Jordan; he’s the best basketball player of my generation and the best basketball player that I have ever witnessed live.
I don’t really enjoy ranking the all-time greats because each is great in their own way and they each brought something unique to the table.
Besides, I haven’t been around long enough to have seen all of them live. It’s tough to make rankings off of highlight packages, vintage games on ESPN Classic and on statistics. I do know the greats of my generation, though, and who I got to see growing up.
The great players of my generation include: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and a few others that are escaping me at the moment. Out of that bunch, there’s only one player that you can argue has had a better career than Bryant and that is Duncan. Bryant’s resume speaks for itself.
Where does that rank Bryant amongst the all-time greats? I can’t tell you. Everyone that you talk to will give you a different list. What I can tell you is that regardless of where you believe Bryant ranks on the list of all-time greats, he’ll always be in the discussion.
Although this season is looking like it’s going be another lost one for the Lakers, I’m excited to see how Kobe goes out. It’ll also be cool to see how the NBA, its players, coaches, and fans show their appreciation for Bryant and all that he’s done.
I’m hoping that during my next visit to Los Angeles, I’ll be able to catch a Lakers game. I have to witness greatness in person…one last time.
Thank you for a wonderful 20-year journey, Kobe. Basketball won’t be the same without you.
Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)