By Martin Leduc
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January 26, 2020: this date is branded in the minds of any basketball fan. Two years ago to the day, Kobe Bryantthe former number 8, then 24 of the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent his entire career, died in a helicopter crash.
That day, the Black Mamba, his nickname, took the helicopter to accompany his daughter, Gianna Bryant, 13 yearsat the Mamba Sports Academy, now soberly called “Sports Academy”.
And the path turns into a nightmare. However, Kobe, 41, regularly took this vehicle to make this quarter-hour trip. But on January 26, 2020, the weather conditions were not ideal, and the craft crashed to the ground. On board, eight passengers and the pilot. All are deceased.
This death caused, and still causes great emotion among fans of the NBA, basketball, and even sports in general. “We don’t want to believe it. It is not possible. This cannot be possible,” the online newspaper wrote. TrashtalkNBA reference in France, on the evening of the tragedy.
“When I heard the news, I had two minutes off. No words came out. It was an electric shock. Honestly, I was not well”, confides to news.fr Evan, 24, amateur basketball player and big NBA fan.
Tributes are pouring in, and not just from the United States. All over the world, marks of respect for the number 24 of the Lakers rain.
Same Neymarthe PSG striker, will dedicate a goal to Kobe, mimicking a 2 and a 4 with his fingers during his celebration.
626 frescoes in homage
On five continents, murals representing the player, sometimes accompanied by his daughter, bloom. According to the website dedicated to these murals, KobeMural.com, 626 frescoes have appeared around the globe. In France, five are documented: in Paris, Bordeaux, Reims, Grenoble and Monaco.
France Inter even reports that since the player’s death, a group of joggers have taken to running “a distance of 8 miles 24”. Again, the two numbers worn by the player during his NBA career.
An indelible imprint in the world of basketball
Behind him, Kobe leaves a wife and three daughters. And millions of grieving fans. Because Kobe is not just a basketball player. In 20 years of NBA career (1996 – 2016), he will have had time to leave an indelible imprint.
Five times NBA champion with the Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010), twice Olympic champion with Team USA at the Olympic Games (2008 and 2012), a trophy for best player of the season (MVP – most valuable player) in 2008 and two for being the best player in the finals in 2009 and 2010.
He will also have won the dunks contest in 1997, the year of his arrival in the NBA, and participated in 18 All Star Game [ce match de gala qui réunit les meilleurs joueurs de NBA, ndlr]. He also won four trophies for best player of the match (2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011).
Post mortem, he will also have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, a very closed circle including only the best basketball players. That’s not all, but several articles would not be enough to list his prize list as it is full.
Kobe Bryant, it was also individual exploits like this game of January 22, 2006, which opposed the Lakers to the Toronto Raptors. That evening, Kobe scored 81 points out of the 122 his team would score. A huge feat when you know that from 30 points, a player has already made an excellent match. Kobe scored 51 more that night.
Only Wilt Chamberlain did better, in 1962 with 100 points. But that was another era. “It’s not tomorrow the day before that a player will score more than 80 points again,” Evan whispers to us.
“When you think NBA, you think Kobe”
And Kobe isn’t just cascading records. It is also a state of mind. He commanded respect with his work ethic, his grinta. His unwavering motivation.
I remember this game where Kobe ruptured his Achilles tendon after suffering a foul. Any normal person would have left the field to seek treatment. Not Kobe. He gritted his teeth and limped off to shoot his free throws. For me, this action sums up the whole state of mind of the player. He never let go.
“When you think NBA, you think of Michael Jordan, Lebron James… And Kobe Bryant. It necessarily comes to your mind, ”says Evan, incidentally a supporter of the Phoenix Suns, the great rivals of Kobe Bryant in the 2000s.
“He was a killer. He was simply too strong, ”breathes the basketball fan.
Even among those whom he has made suffer, sportingly speaking, Kobe will remain in everyone’s mind. Forever and ever.
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