Kobe Bryant: The End Of An Era For The Lakers And The NBA


With Kobe Bryant officially hanging it up after this season, it marks the end of an era for the Los Angeles Lakers and the rest of the NBA

When you think of basketball you think of the Los Angeles Lakers. Even people who don’t follow the sport could name the Hollywood based franchise as one of the best in the business. And when you talk about the Lakers one name has always been synonymous with the organization and its winning ways: Kobe Bryant.

Let me begin by saying that I firmly believe Magic Johnson was the greatest player to ever dawn the purple and gold, but Kobe is the greatest Laker ever. The difference is attitude. Magic to me is the quintessential do it all basketball player who could man any spot 1-5, and regardless of what position he was playing it went without saying that he was the best player on the court.

Kobe, on the other hand, epitomized what the world saw the franchise as. They’re the Yankees of basketball, with the cut throat win at all costs mentality; and the Black Mamba fits that mold to a tee. He wins…that’s his thing; but he isn’t satisfied with just a victory at the end of the day, when he’s on the floor he wants to crush your competitive spirit all together.

More from Sir Charles In Charge

By now, we all know the beginnings of Kobe Bryant. After moving from Italy to Philly, he learned to play angry and with a chip on his shoulder, a trait that made him excel. He was a phenom in High School, and became the 13th selection of the 1996 NBA Draft. He was almost immediately shipped to LaLa Land from Charlotte in exchange for Vlade Divac. Once the exchange had been made, Bryant became immersed in the Hollywood culture and rose to the bright lights of one of the sports world’s grandest stages.

Part of the Kobe legacy is an understanding of who his teammates were. He played alongside some big names in the sport, and saw a number of teammates reach new heights in their own games. Here’s a sample of the greatness that surrounded Kobe Bryant throughout his storied career:

  • Pau GasolLet’s face facts, Kobe Bryant has been the beneficiary of the Laker tendency to dish out mega-millions for All-Star caliber bigs. Gasol was brought in by the team in the middle of the 2008 campaign and his impact would eventually help Bryant to his 4th and 5th NBA Championships. Gasol has earned five All-Star nods over the course of his likely Hall of Fame career, and three of those came during his partnership with Kobe Bryant.
  • Derek FisherD-Fish spent an upwards of 12 seasons in the backcourt alongside Kobe Bryant. He was obi’s longest tenured teammate, and was by the Black Mamba’s side for all five NBA titles. Fisher never astounded anyone with his individual play and accolades, but his knowledge of the game and ability to make those around him better translated to a coaching job with New York Knicks immediately following his retirement from playing.
  • Shaquille O’Neal: Undoubtably the most well known teammate Kobe has ever had, Shaq was actually the Alpha to Kobe’s Beta in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The prospect of luring Shaq to LA was actually the driving force for the Vlade-Kobe swap during the summer of ’96. Shaq and Kobe won 3 consecutive titles at the turn of the century. Up until their nasty falling out, they could likely be considered one of the best duos in NBA history.

After O’Neal’s departure, there was a consensus around the league that the Lakers were doomed. Kobe hadn’t been proven yet as a leader nor as a team’s top option. He was undoubtably a good player at that point, but there were questions about his ability to be great for a franchise that hung its hat on putting the best possible product out on to the floor each night.

What separates the Black Mamba from the rest of the NBA was his ability to win. He could beat any team and any defense they threw at him, or at least he believed he could. Even when the rest of the world would doubt him, he kept tossing up buzzer-beaters through triple teams and sinking them time and again. He is responsible for sending a lot of players and fans home unhappy over the past two decades. As a matter of fact, the Mamba led Lakers prevented a number of greats from winning an NBA title of their own.

  • Steve Nash: When speaking about Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash‘s name will always come up as one of the greats who was unable to win a world title because of the Kobe led Lakers franchises. In his later years, the two-time MVP eventually joined Kobe to form what should have been a title contender had the tandem not been bitten by the injury bug. Nash and Kobe never won much together, but as rivals their Western Conference Finals clashes were incredible to watch as a fan of the game.
  • Allen Iverson: AI was known as the Answer in Philly, unfortunately he didn’t have an answer for the Lakers high-powered attack during the 2001 NBA Finals. Kobe and Shaq dismantled a 76er team that many thought had a legitimate chance of walking away from the series as champions. Iverson gave incredible performance after incredible performance throughout the series, but it was simply a case of 2 stars being better than 1.
  • Chris Mullin: That’s right, the Hall of Famer and member of the Dream Team was forced to ride off into the sunset without a championship ring on his finger. Mullin spent most of his illustrious career on a helpless Golden State Warriors team. In a last ditch effort to reach the promised land, he journeyed to Indiana and joined a title contender in the Pacers. When they reached the 2000 NBA Finals however, they were met by the Lakers who would go on to secure the first of three consecutive NBA Titles.

Live Feed

NBA 2K24 Review: Excellent gameplay highlights strong installment
NBA 2K24 Review: Excellent gameplay highlights strong installment /

Hoops Habit

  • NBA 2K24 Mamba Moments: How to Complete, RewardsDBLTAP
  • Austin Reaves has eerily similar year two numbers with this Lakers legendLake Show Life
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's FIBA World Cup performance is reminiscent of Kobe Bryant'sZona Zealots
  • This decision by Brandon Ingram makes complete sensePelican Debrief
  • Remembering Kobe Bryant's most iconic Lakers teammatesLake Show Life
  • The legacy of Kobe Bryant is that there will never be another like him. He isn’t Michael Jordan, but for a generation of young basketball fans who never got to see his Airness take the floor, Kobe is the benchmark for greatness in basketball. Take me for example, born in 1995,  I was only exposed to the later years of MJ and even those memories are hazy at best. Bryant entered the league in the summer of 1996, as I grew up, Kobe Bryant being great was a given.

    Kobe Bryant won’t be remembered as the greatest to ever lace up a pair of kicks and hit the court, Michael Jordan is still holding that top spot. He won’t be remembered as the best two-guard in the league because the man listed above played that position. He didn’t win the most, that’s Bill Russell. He didn’t play the best defense, a number of guys have specialized at that sort of thing.

    What Kobe Bryant will be remembered for is playing with a fire and competitive spirit unlike anyone else in the history of the game. Kobe was willing to do anything and everything to get a win, and he did it for 82 games a year (plus playoffs), for 20 years. People poke at the fact that he took a lot of shots, as a matter of fact he’s missed more shots than anyone in league history. But Kobe Bryant knew in his heart, just as we all did, that a Kobe Bryant contested 3 or post fadeaway gave the Lakers the best chance to win on a nightly basis.

    Next: NBA Power Rankings: Pacers, Clippers Trending Up

    Upon his exit from the league, his contributions to the great game of basketball will be unparalleled. He has been the standard of excellence in the NBA for the better part of the last two decades. He lived for the brightest of spotlights when most others would rather step away. Arguably the most clutch player of all time, Kobe Bryant never met moment too big or a shot too risky to take.

    Regardless of what you think about the man personally, you have to respect his accomplishments on the floor. I for one despised him for most of my life, after he destroyed my beloved Nets in the 2002 NBA Finals. Kobe is a once in a generation talent, and a model of consistency for everyone. He’s proof that hard work and a hunger for greatness can lead you to the mountain top.

    So at this point all we can really say is…

    Thank you Kobe Bryant.