by Arnav Gorantala
If you were to ask a basketball analyst about the 5 best players of all time, nine times out of ten you wouldn’t hear the name ‘Kobe’. Yet, when we measure the greatness of Kobe Bryant, against those who fall on this list, it is a landslide in favor of Kobe.
So why is this? Why is Kobe Bryant known as a global icon over the likes of better players such as Kareem?
Simply put, in a search for the best player of all time, we fail to understand the most important factor in an athlete’s journey — impact. Kobe’s impact was on the same lines asMichael Jordan, and Lebron James. When we hear stories about him, we sit in awe of the things he has achieved. Most of all, he showed us what it took to be great. He showed us the road map to achieving success.
‘The Mamba Mentality: How I play”, authored by Kobe himself, showed us the extent to which Kobe would go in order to reach his goal as a competitor. A portrayal of this was his dedication and love for his fans. His wife, Vannessa Bryant spoke on Kobe’s drive to play even despite injuries, so that he wouldn’t disappoint his fans. “What about the fans, who saved up to watch me play just once?” Kobe had once said. This book showed us the five pillars of Kobe’s success, the pillars of the Mamba Mentality –passion, obsession, relentlessness, resiliency, and fearlessness.
Kobe’s impact originated in just basketball, and slowly expanded to various other, if not all sports. The loss of Kobe ripped a hole in sports on a global level, that changed the approach athletes had towards sport. Tributes to Kobe extended from basketball greats like Kevin Durant to football stars like Neymar. The horrific loss brought unity across the sports industry.
With the second anniversary of the tragedy just having passed, we remember what Kobe did for all of us. Kobe showed me what it looked like to love something so unconditionally. Like a million other fans, Kobe Bryant made me fall in love with the game of basketball. Yes, he played the game at the highest level, yes, he won 5 championships, but it all stemmed from his love for the game. In his aim to win trophies, he won over something much more valuable –the hearts of all basketball fans.