By: Raul Estrada
“Ladies and Gentlemen presenting your shooting guard for your Los Angeles Lakers, standing 6’6 coming out of Lower Merion High School” is something the basketball culture is going to miss due to one of the greatest players to ever play the game recently announcing his retirement on December 5,2015 stating that this would be his last year playing in the NBA. Kobe Bryant played 18 years in the NBA, all of those years he played for the Los Angeles Lakers. He first started playing in the NBA in 1996 when he was drafted right out of high school in the first round pick 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets.
As soon as Kobe Bryant was drafted, he was quickly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac. His rookie year, he did good and averaged 7.6 points per game leading the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Playoffs.The Los Angeles Lakers made it past the first round and got knocked out in the semis. In his early years, he won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and competed in the NBA All Star Game his sophomore year in this career. In his third season. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’neal suited up together and were a wrecking force that brought the Los Angeles Lakers three consecutives NBA Championship trophies.
During the off-season of 2006, Bryant changed his number from number 8 to number 24. He went on to have a spectacular year the next seasons and in 2009 he lead the Los Angeles to the NBA Playoffs where he went up against the young dominant center Dwight Howard and his Orlando Magic. They went on to beat the Orlando Magic at their house to beat them 4-1 out of a 7 game series. The following year the continued to have a spectacular season as they finished the season with a 57-25 record. They cruised through the playoffs and went on to face an all time rival the Boston Celtics. The biggest rivalry in the NBA is between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Bryant went out and told the media he would get redemption for falling short to the Celtics in 2008.
As years went by the five time NBA champion went on to have great NBA seasons. In late 2014 during the season while playing against the Golden State Warriors Kobe Bryant had pain coming out of his leg, but thought it wasn’t anything so he continued to play and fell down to the floor with lots of pain during the game and thought it was just sore. During the third quarter of the game while he drove to the paint on Klay Thompson his leg wobbled and he fell to the floor where he later walked out of the area with a torn achilles. He missed half of the season when he was later cleared to play again he went to play a couple of games but during one game against the Memphis Grizzlies he left the game with knee injuries.
On December 5, 2015 Kobe Bryant typed a formal letter to the NBA and the Los Angeles Lakers Management thanking them for the amazing experience, which was later released to the media and everyone was talking about it. Most of the players in the NBA, even retired players went out on social media thanking the walking legend Kobe Bryant for all that he has done for the NBA community. As everyone came to realize this would be Kobe’s last year, many teams will be making tribute videos of them saying a couple of words for the all time great. He’s even gotten some special treats like Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant a special wall of all of the Jordan shoe models. Although it is tough for the Lakers Community to lose a player you’ve grown up watching, we are thankful for all the fun, exciting buzzer beaters and the five championships he brought for us.