Kobe Bryant’s legacy is a Hall of Fame celebration

The accolades are many but they don’t quite tell the whole story of greatness. There are a lot of reasons Kobe Bryant deserves to be in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Bryant is one of the greatest NBA players of all time.

During his 20-year career before he retired, Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, NBA Finals MPVP twice and picked up a regular season honor. It makes you wonder, though, for all the greatness Bryant treated fans to on the court for two decades, he should have had more league MVPs.   

For 20 years, Bryant was NBA basketball. He led the way. He was a slam dunk champion in 1997. Both of the numbers (8, 24)he wore on the back of a Los Angeles Lakers uniform are retired. That’s why he’s one of the best ever! 

“No amount of words can fully describe what Kobe Bryant meant to the Los Angeles Lakers,” Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss said. “Kobe was not only a proven winner and a champion, he gave everything he had to the game of basketball. His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and drive were unmatched. Those qualities helped Kobe lead us to five titles – and have now brought him to the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined with the greatest to have ever played the game. No one deserves it more.”

Bryant deserves the Hall of Fame because he won five NBA titles. Before Bryant’s tragic passing in 2019, he was one of the influential human beings ever. He deserves to be treated with respect no matter what happens. 

Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant with his former coach Phil Jackson at Shaquille O'Neal's statute ceremony in front of STAPLES Center in 2017. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline
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Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant with his former coach Phil Jackson at Shaquille O’Neal’s statute ceremony in front of STAPLES Center in 2017. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

When Bryant was in high school, he was one of the most highly touted high school wing players in the nation. He was also one of the best players in high school. When you combine what he did during his prep career and his NBA portfolio, this shows why he deserves to be part of the Hall of Fame with the other NBA players that also won in the past.

Think about it: Bryant once scored 81 points in an NBA basketball game (Toronto Raptors), which is the second-highest scoring mark in the history of the game. Bryant’s 81 points make him the only Laker to score 80 points and over in one game.    

The Hall of Fame ceremony was emotional with Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, giving a moving tribute to her late husband. When she concluded her nearly 13-minute speech, Mrs. Bryant effectively brought out the humanity of her Kobe as she received a standing ovation for reminding all of us of the man No. 24 was.

The sadness of not Bryant not being present to be part of his big night seemed to be overwhelming to all.  

On Saturday, May 15, this day will go down as one of the biggest days in the history of the Lakers franchise.  It will also be remembered in the hearts of those who bleed Purple and Gold because those fans have been waiting to see Bryant inducted into the Hall of Fame since the day he retired.

That day could not come fast enough, especially for those who witnessed Bryant dropped 60 points on the Utah Jazz at STAPLES Center in the very last game he ever played. Bryant was the best player of his generation, and arguably the best ever!

It’s unfortunate that due to Bryant’s untimely passing from a helicopter crash that also took the life of his daughter Gianna and seven other people, that fans will not have the opportunity to see and hear the Black Mamba talk about his accomplishments.

I believe that everybody really wants Bryant to get the Hall of Fame honor even if they aren’t Kobe fans. The debate will linger if Bryant or Michael Jordan are the two best players. It is sad to note that Bryant was not able to be in the Hall of Fame ceremony with Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, his two chief contemporaries and rivals. 

As great as both Duncan and Garnett were during their heyday, Bryant will be remembered as the best of the 2020 Hall of Fame Class. Indeed, it is a sad occasion. But it is also a time to appreciate Bryant as both an iconic basketball star as well as what he meant to so many people worldwide. Let’s start with the basketball side.   

Bryant showed lots of improvement in his game during his playing career. He went from a hotshot talent to a world champion. He was just about everyone’s hero. He could make plays that only Bryant could. He was special. He was one of us. Bryant was the epitome of Los Angeles: grit, glamour and greatness. 

People wanted to see Bryant get into the Hall of Fame because of what he meant to the game. He never cheated the fan out of their hard-earned money. Think about all of the awards and honors he picked up while he played? Bryant deserves the Hall of Fame because he gave us moments that will always be embedded into the back of our memory. He played with such ferocity that his will to win outdid his will not to lose. 

He may not be here, but he is here with us in spirit.  It is good that Bryant gets to have his Hall of Fame moment five years (actually four years) after he announced his retirement from playing the NBA. The ceremony for the annual Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 was supposed to take place last year but was moved to this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bryant is a legend. His legacy was captivated nicely by Vanessa, who battled back emotions of her own. This was indeed a sad moment with Vanessa and Michael Jordan honoring Bryant.

I do think that Vanessa and Jordan should have been allowed to honor Bryant first before Duncan and Garnett received their accolades because of the unfortunate way the world lost the two-time Olympic gold medal winner and Oscar achiever.       

Bryant broke barriers across the board in basketball and off the court. Now it’s time to do our part. If we want to truly pay homage to the best basketball player in the world then we should celebrate his legacy.

“Kobe was always one to downplay his professional accomplishments – MVPs, NBA championships, gold medals, Oscars, and on and on and on,” said Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and general manager Rob Pelinka. “But all of us can trust that this Basketball Hall of Fame honor is one Kobe would, and will, deeply appreciate. The highest of congratulations to you, dear friend. This one is so well deserved — for all the hard work, sweat and toil. Now, a part of you will live in the Hall with the rest of the all-time greats, where your legend and spirit will continue to grow forever.”