Kobe Bryant, the only NBA athlete so far to play 20 straight seasons with the same team (LA Lakers), the 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team, the leader in NBA scoring during two seasons, has officially retired as an athlete but his brand continues.
Bryant, to many, is far more than an athlete. What it means to be “Kobe” depends on whom you ask; some say “great,” “dedicated,” “relentless,” “inspirational,” “legendary.” It has become a norm to say “Kobe!” as you throw just about anything into a wastebasket.
This two-minute video gives viewers personal insight on how some members of the NBA feel about Bryant and his career. Whether these men are his friends, foes, coaches, teammates or rivals, they express their gratitude for his perseverance and inspiration.
Furthermore, April 13, 2016, the day Kobe Bryant played his last NBA game, was officially named #MambaDay on social media, as the Internet thanked Kobe in their own words, pictures, videos.
With all of that said, it seems obvious that Bryant has become an icon in the world of basketball and sports as a whole. What is not so obvious is the team behind him, and I’m not talking about the Lakers.
In 2003, Bryant lived in a negative spotlight. He was accused of rape by a 19-year-old hotel employee. While the athlete denied the allegations, he admitted to a sexual encounter with the woman, an adulterous sexual encounter. After a lengthy criminal then civil court battle, his accuser settled with Bryant out of court. He publicly apologized for the incident, more to his wife than anyone, and his public image seemed restored.
Given his tumultuous history in the limelight, it’s hard to believe nearly the whole world supported him on his last day of professional basketball, but they did. Seeming to forget about all of Bryant’s negative actions, the world rooted for him as he scored 60 points in his last NBA game.
Nike released a commercial, “The Conductor,” where Bryant scores a buzzer-beater, to a chorus of opposing teams and their fans chanting “Kobe sucks!” He responds by conducting the audience in singing a song about their hate for him, as he walks off with a smile on his face. If that does not sum up Bryant’s career, nothing does.
Bryant has been routinely hated as much as loved for his undeniable skill, but the passion in the hate seems to slowly disintegrate as people realize, he’s gone. That is the epitome of good marketing and public relations. It is impossible to be loved by everyone and to maintain respect throughout a career, until you look at Bryant.
“Thank you for pushing through when your body said no but your heart said yes.” – Kyrie Irving