Just two months after Peyton Manning played his last game, another powerhouse of American sports has hung up his jersey for the last time.
Kobe Bryant, after playing 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, ended his professional basketball career on April 13, according to ESPN.
Bryant was a five-time NBA Champion and an 18-time All Star. Currently, he ranks as third in most points scored by a player.
“Now that he is gone, it’s like a piece of the game has been taken from us and we will never get it back,” Binita Patel, a freshman biology major on the PA track, said. As a resident of California, Patel said she has a strong connection to Kobe’s play. “This marks the end of an era for the entire NBA,” she added.
While certainly not the only superstar in the NBA, Bryant was consistently a high-performance player throughout his career.
Vincent Santore, a junior business information technology management major, has a different perspective on Bryant’s career. “Being from Philly, I’ve always had a special respect for Kobe, even when he was part of the reason the Philadelphia 76ers lost the NBA Finals back in 2001,” Santore said.
Bryant was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and competed for the NBA’s championship against his hometown team in 2001, according to ESPN.
“He’s had some off the court problems, but I still respect how much he has given to the game,” Santore added.
In 2003, Bryant was arrested for suspicions of sexually assaulting a 19-year old woman in Colorado. Though that case was ultimately dropped, Bryant did have to settle a civil suit out of court with the alleged victim, according to ESPN.
“Definitely one of the greatest of our generation, but was always behind [Michael] Jordan in the beginning and LeBron at the end,” Sean Green, a junior finance major, said. “One of the greatest scorers ever and a true winner. He played through an incredible amount of pain.”
In the later stages of his career, Bryant suffered multiple injuries that severely cut down on his play time and ultimately sidelined him for the majority of some seasons, according to ESPN.
Jake Etienne, a sophomore secondary education and history major, also recognized the effect Bryant had on the game. Etienne said Kobe is “a fearless and determined scorer who sometimes put his personal accolades before team performance.”
However, Etienne added that Bryant always found a way to win, which he did en route to five NBA Championships.
Bryant’s impact is felt beyond the sport of basketball.
“Although I do not watch much basketball, I am fully aware of both his contributions to basketball and his highly publicized controversies. He has been the center of media coverage for a while,” Garrett Denton, a freshman computer science major, explained. Bryant ended his career in grand fashion as he scored 60 points in a Los Angeles Lakers comeback victory over the Utah Jazz on his home court in the Staples Center. “I think it was an epic retirement. I cannot remember any greater way someone could go out,” Etienne said.
Though Bryant is officially done playing professional basketball, his impact will remain with a lot of people. “There will be better scorers and there will be better defenders, but there will never be a better character than Kobe Bean Bryant,” Patel said.
Zachary Wohl can be reached at email@example.com.