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GBB Roundtable: Kobe Bryant’s legacy

On the far too early exit of an icon.

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Kobe Bryant the man is gone, as is his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. So are John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa. Same with Christina Mauser, and Sarah Chester, and her daughter Payton. The pilot of the helicopter, Ara Zobayan, also has left this life for whatever comes next. It is important to remember all of the levels of this tragedy, one that has sent out shockwaves not just through the NBA family but the entire world.

Life is fragile...and fleeting. Families are ripped apart, never to be repaired on this planet. And it all happened in a way anyone that is a parent can relate to - traveling to an event for your child on a Sunday morning. Gone are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and loved much lost potential among those gone far too soon.

Kobe Bryant gets the headlines because of the career he had as a public figure, but never forget that there are others whose worlds have collapsed upon themselves. Our thoughts are with all affected. As tributes continue to roll in for Kobe from the basketball/sports communities we at GBB wanted to pay our respects via roundtable from the perspective of not just Memphis Grizzlies bloggers, but as fans of the game itself...and as people responding to such a tragedy.

I wrote my remembrance of Kobe Sunday night, which you can read here. The following are responses from our GBB staff.

How will you remember Kobe Bryant?

Parker Fleming, GBB Associate Editor- I’ll remember Kobe as the game’s most ferocious competitor. There will never be another player with his arsenal and with his killer Mamba mentality when it matters most. More importantly, after his career, he was one of the game’s greatest ambassadors, pouring into the young stars of the league (such as Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, and even our own Ja Morant), while serving as the strong advocate for equality in the sport. We really lost a basketball legend and an unbelievable person.

Greg Lubiani, GBB Writer- I will remember Kobe Bryant in the same manner I thought of him before this tragedy. He will always be both the greatest player and competitor of his generation – my generation. Indeed, I was in high school when Kobe Bryant began his professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers. I can remember wondering why the talking heads on radio and TV kept debating who the next Michael Jordan would be. To me, it was obvious that he had already arrived and his name was Kobe Bryant.

Brendan Smart, GBB Writer- Kobe was easily the most competitive guy out of the last decade or two. Being competitive in anything he did rather it was on the court or off, Kobe wasn’t going to know that he lost without giving it every ounce he had. As a basketball fan, he carried such a confidence about him, while still playing that you wanted to beat him. A confidence of knowing he is the best player on the floor, and each night, no matter the opponent he was going to show you something.

Jordan Peterson, GBB Writer- I will remember Kobe Bryant for the huge legacy he left on the NBA. You don’t get an entire farewell tour if you’re not one of the greatest ever to play the game. To give future talent a blueprint for hard work and success is no small contribution and a gift that never stops giving.

Greg Ratliff, GBB Senior Writer- I will always remember the feeling as a fan, that any time he was in a game he had the chance to do something amazing. Especially in a close game. Kobe in a close game with the ball in his hands, the gut feeling of dread just knowing the game was probably over. Then, as he transitioned into the next phase of his life, the creativity in media. He was brilliant on the court and off.

Nathan Chester, GBB Senior Writer- I’ll remember him as the Michael Jordan of my generation, an uncompromising and mesmerizing player that epitomized excellence and greatness as a basketball player.

Jack Noonan, GBB Associate Editor- I will remember Kobe Bryant as one of the greats who shaped the way I cared about the game of basketball. The first real NBA memory I had was the Finals teams with Shaq and Kobe leading the Lakers to three straight championships. Kobe had the mentality not many players possessed that really made an impact on me. The players name who I yelled out after shooting was always “Kobe!” He helped raise me up to love this game without even getting anywhere close to knowing me. His passing made me realize the impact some people make in your life without even knowing them personally.

Shawn Coleman, GBB Senior Writer- I will always remember Kobe as the ultimate competitor. There is a reason he was the one guy who had a literal mentality named because of him (that he gave himself, no less!) It was why he is arguably the greatest closer in NBA history. Nothing but the absolute best was acceptable in his eyes, and very rarely was he, or us as fans, disappointed.

EdMemphis, GBB Writer- ’ll remember Kobe as a modern day Titan in life. A great example of a father, a black man, & the model for which I learned from afar how to walk talk & carry myself publicly & when conducting business. I’ll remember him for showing us it’s ok to embrace what you really are, even if it’s the villain, as he did so well. I’ll remember him for setting the standard for consistent hard work & determination to be the BEST.

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

What was your greatest moment of Kobe against the Grizzlies?

Fleming: There’s not a single moment I can think of, even though I was in the arena for a 60+ point game against the Grizzlies. One thing I’ll always remember though is, no matter how well the Grizzlies would play, a win was never a guarantee, as Kobe would put the nail in the coffin in crunch-time...every...single...time.

Lubiani: My “greatest” memory, in full disclosure, was a bad memory for a long time. The Grizzlies were still relatively new in Memphis, and we had hope now with Pau Gasol and Shane Battier. While Pau was the star, Battier was the do-everything college All-American who was looked at as our best defender at the time. When Kobe came to Memphis, he proceeded to do whatever he wanted against us and laughed at the idea that Battier could guard him. Being a die-hard Memphian, it angered me at the time (even though he was 100% correct). In more recent years, though, I laugh about it and am amazed at just how great he was.

Smart: Every time Kobe would come to town once Memphis became competitive. The Grizzlies from that 2010 season on gave the Lakers a run, and gave Memphis a good gauge of where they were at as a team. Kobe was always professional when coming to Memphis, and really any city for the most part. I was always hype to send those Lakers fans sad out of the FedExForum exits.

Peterson: It’s not a specific game that comes to mind, but the number of times FedExForum was packed with Kobe jerseys and how the arena would erupt when he’d inevitably have his way with the Grizzlies.

Ratliff: The final game he played here in 2016. I had seen Kobe play against the Bulls in person in Chicago and had seen one other game here vs the Grizzlies, but the amount of Lakers purple and gold that descended on FedExForum that night was something special.

Chester: I saw him drop 36 in person against the Grizzlies in 2012. I’d seen many great performances from many great players over the year, but I’d never seen one they felt so inevitable like his. The only surprise was when he missed the game-winning shot over Quincy Pondexter to send the game into OT.

Noonan: The greatest memories Kobe Bryant had with the Grizzlies was his battles with Tony Allen. Kobe first went up against Tony Allen in his time with Boston, and he always revered him as one of the best defenders of all time. Memphis Nation got to see this utmost respect when Kobe came to FedExForum. Every game, these two battled against each other knowing it meant more for their prides than the final score. That was something that only happens a few other times around the league. The Tony Allen vs Kobe Bryant relationship was just incredible to watch.

Coleman: The 60 point night in March of 2007. Kobe was on a stretch offensively that would make James Harden weep tears of joy. Memphis had no answer that night, as was the case many nights against Bryant. However, that night in particular, during that stretch, Kobe was on a level of success rarely seen before.

EdMemphis- Greatest Kobe moment vs the Grizzlies has to be the night he scored 60+ on Shane Battier in 3 quarters & sitting out the 4th.

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

What Impact do you see Bryant having on the future of the NBA and basketball at large?

Fleming: His impact will always be transcendent, and I think the league will continue honoring him, whether it’s a statue in front of Staples Center, or the number 24 jersey being retired league-wide. For basketball as a whole, we lost a hero. And, I hope and pray that the next generation of hoopers grow up not just studying Kobe’s skillset, but also playing the game with the same intensity and passion for the game as the Mamba.

Lubiani: Kobe Bryant’s impact has already been manifesting itself before our very eyes. Today’s stars grew up idolizing him as he helped lead the Lakers to five NBA championships, being twice named the Finals MVP. His impact spread even further through his international trips, including two tours with Team USA that both culminated in gold medals. The “Mamba Mentality” he displayed is now embraced by not only players of today, but also people from all walks of life as the frame of mind needed to achieve their dreams. His impact is domestic and global, sport-specific and universal, generational and ever-enduring.

Smart: I think that with Bryant now no longer with us we will never see what the next generation would’ve looked like. From a basketball standpoint that is one of the saddest things about this - not seeing the Bean mentor the next generation. I do think you will see those impacted by this bring back that competitive edge. Bryant won’t have the impact that he could’ve which sucks, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t inspire this generation of athletes and the ones coming after.

Peterson: Kobe’s impact on the NBA will be everlasting. He provided such an example of not relying on raw talent alone, but harnessing all of his effort and passion to elevate his game beyond any parameter anyone could have predicted. There will never be another Kobe Bryant, but a lot of people will continue to strive in honor of him.

Ratliff: His work ethic is something that anyone in any line of work can strive for. He will always be remembered as being one of the greatest to ever play the game for that and many other reasons. But people will always be able to use Kobe as a model for what they can do on and off the court.

Chester: Even before his death, he was one of the most influential players to ever play the game. In death, he very well may become the most impactful, a reverberating legend that not only had an immense impact on players of this generation, but will also on generations to come.

Noonan: I believe the NBA will really go above and beyond to honor Kobe Bryant for everything he has done for the game. He was a global figure head for the sport that people all over knew. After he retired, he thrived to grow the game and help the league any way possible. It was not just the men’s game only. He was a huge force behind getting publicity to the WNBA and women’s college basketball. He made it a point to always bring the women into the conversation. The future of basketball will have the spirit of Kobe in every decision made from that day forward.

Coleman: The thing that will stand out about Kobe to me is how he consistently evolved as a human, which is what I feel his lasting legacy and impact on players and fans will be. He never stopped learning, never stopped competing, but in the end also knew what mattered. He knew that he had a great ability to inspire by giving 100% to being the best version of himself he could be. He taught many that is a great way to live, and in that his legacy will remain strong for generations to come.

EdMemphis- Kobe will be immortalized & the “Mamba Mentality” lifestyle/culture will become like a religion in some ways. For me, his passing has felt like a cross between losing Tupac Shakur & Steve Jobs.

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