L.A. Laker great Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash, understood his legacy and what he meant to basketball, but he had a particular thing for which he wanted to be remembered.
Bryant laid out his deepest feelings about his success, his fame, and his sport in a 2010 interview with Yahoo Sports.
During the interview, number 24 was asked where he thinks he ranks among basketball’s greatest players. In all humility, Bryant did not want to go there.
“I can’t put myself in that position – I really can’t,” Bryant told the interviewer.
But he did have a singular idea about how he wanted people to remember him.
Kobe Bryant wanted to be remembered as a man who worked extra hard to achieve excellence in his chosen field.
“I’ve always been comfortable as a kid growing up to think that when my career is over, I want them to think of me as an overachiever despite the talent that I have,” Bryant said. “To think of me as a person that’s overachieved, that would mean a lot to me. That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could.”
Bryant added that he would not be happy unless people knew that he put 100% into his achievements in life.
“Hopefully, they perceive me as a person who did whatever he had to do to win above all else. Above anything. Above stats. … If they say that about me, I’ll be happy,” he added.
Indeed, Bryant leaves an incredible NBA legacy. The Laker legend left the sport as a five-time NBA Champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, the 2008 NBA MVP, an 18-time NBA All-Star, a four-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, a two-time scoring champion, a 15-time All-NBA selection, a 12-time defensive selection, and the youngest player in NBA history to reach a career high of 30,000 points. And in 2010, was even called one of the top ten NBA players in history by none other than NBA’s GOAT, Michael Jordan.
But Bryant had more to say in that 2010 interview which shows what an amazing man he was.
During the interview, Bryant noted that he fully understands just how fortunate he is to be in the company of legendary players such as Jordan.
“I understand. That’s what’s special to me, that I’m this fortunate to have this opportunity. So, let’s try to make the most of it,” Bryant said at the time.
Bryant clearly understood the elite company among whom he earned a place. He also recognized that others deserve their due as well. With his very last tweet posted only hours before his death, Bryant welcomed LeBron James into that club with a message congratulating #KingJames for surpassing Bryant’s own record career score tally.
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
Now Kobe Bryant has passed into the firmament of NBA stars to be enshrined forever in the sport’s memory.
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