This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kobe Bean Bryant. One of the pioneers of the modern game of basketball as well as the last resemblance of the game our parents know and love from the 80s and 90s. In my opinion the recent struggles of the Lakers as an organization as well as a few injury filled seasons for the aging superstar has allowed people to forget the true greatness of “Jelly Bean” Bryant’s son and how he has changed the game.

For a little background knowledge, Kobe spent a lot of his childhood in Italy before attending Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, PA where he became a McDonald’s All-American, The Naismith and Gatorade Player of the Year, winning a state championship, and having his No. 33 jersey retired at the school.

In this day and age where star players are constantly switching teams and teaming up with other stars to dominate and win championships, Kobe has remained steady. Playing all 19 of his NBA seasons in The City of Angels and bringing them 5 championships in that tenure. He has also recently stated that he will end his career with the gold and purple as well. This level of loyalty even in controversy is remarkable.

While I may not like Kobe as a person, I have to respect his greatness and warrior mentality. After I saw the numerous injuries he played with, topped off by MAKING two free-throws with a ruptured Achilles’ Tendon with no sign of pain or even so much as a grimace, I knew this guy was of a different mentality. He is a true warrior and I’ve never seen and don’t believe I will ever see anything like it again.

The numbers speak for themselves. We all know the story; 3rd on the all-time scoring list, 5 championships, 2 Finals MVPs, 17x All Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 1x MVP, 11x All-NBA First Team, Dunk Contest Champ, 9x All-NBA Defensive First Team, among so many others but the accolades only tell part of the story. Kobe is the closest thing to Michael that we’ve ever seen and that I believe we will ever see. This clip is really all that has to be said about that comparison, it’s scary.

Kobe’s basketball days are numbered. The great Kanye West said that our idols never receive their flowers while they can still smell them. So we have to appreciate greatness while we can still view it. Kobe is a living legend and while he has a very bold and brash personality, His accolades can not be denied or disrespected. In other words, Thank you Kobe, for all that you’ve done for my favorite sports.

– Credits: LakersNation.com and ESPN.com (Statistics) and Youssef Hannoun (YouTube video)

– Melvin Jenkins Jr.