Kobe Bryant has been a galvanizing figure since he came into the game. Even beforehand, his agent was already stirring the pot by stating that Kobe would not go to the New Jersey Nets if drafted by thema claim Kobe refuted not long after he started balling for the Los Angeles Lakers. Over the span of 19 years, many people have been fed up with Kobe Bryant, both teammates and opposing players as well.
Remember when he was trying to fight for time amid a Lakers locker room that housed all-stars and high-scorers like Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones?
Remember when Shaquille ONeal, who came over to the Lakers just weeks after the they acquired Kobe from Charlotte in a draft day trade, and later joined Van Exel and others in what seemed to be a haters parade?
They called him Showboat, a derisive take on the Los Angeles Lakers legendary Showtime moniker of the ’80s. Yeah, those beginning days were rough. They thought he was hotdog with too much mustard, plenty of butter without enough role. They thought he was just another flashy kid with illusions of grandeur, but they aint know Kobe Bryant, at least not yet.
Dear Basketball, presented by Kobe Bryant Jersey Retirement Opener HD
Five years ago, The Shadow League published a two-part series called The Incredible Basketball Life and Trying Basketball Times of Kobe Bryant, which was eventually consumed all over the world and cited in Robert Lanzenbys 2016 book Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant.
We like to imagine Bryant as this ready-made Jordan clone, while revisionists like to pretend that Shaq came to Los Angeles to play with Kobe. That was and always has been a resounding no. Shaq came to LA for the mystique of being a Laker and was heavily involved in filmmaking and marketing at the time. Kobe was just drafted and was already having a tough go.
“…Bryant’s average minutes-per-game jump to 26 minutes per game, and his scoring average would more than double from 7.6 to 15.4 points per game during the ’97-’98 NBA season. Jones would start at shooting guard 80 out of 82 games that season.
Kobe would only start one of the 79 games in which he was available to play, but would get the lion’s share of minutes at small forward when L.A. went small. While he had not yet completely replaced Jones as the second-best Laker on the roster, the writing was as apparent as neon lights in Times Square. This kid was the future and clearly the real deal.
He was already cutting into Van Exel’s minutes and would swing over to play shooting guard at times. Nick’s minutes and shot attempts per game were both down compared to where they were during Kobe’s rookie year. While the usually even-keeled Eddie Jones appeared to take Bryant’s rapid ascension in stride, Van Exel at times seemed repulsed by the very idea of being supplanted by the young phenom. But it wasn’t just Nick, it was Shaq as well.”
Tonight, Kobe Bryant’s #8 and #24 uniforms will be retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. Join us in celebrating The Black Mamba’s illustrious career as we go through the archive with the Ultimate Kobe Bryant Mixtape!
Those words are indicative of how rough it was on a young Kobe, and how nothing was handed to him. No one every coddled him. But, as was narrated by Kobe, this is a lover affair. Indeed, love won out in the end.
With the Oscar nomination of Dear Basketball in the animated film category, which was crafted from a poem read by Bryant during his retirement, we see Bryant encapsulate all those experiences into one artistic, eternal truth.