Three months have passed since Kobe Bryant‘s untimely death and the basketball world has not been the same since.
The Los Angeles Lakers icon was known for his competitive spirit on the court and his determination to win games was unmatched, but he began to build lasting relationships with players and seemed keen on ushering in the next generation in the NBA.
Bryant took several All-Star players like Kyrie Irving, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard under his wing in his later seasons, but players like Dwayne Wade also seemed to build a friendship and mentorship with the five-time NBA champion.
Wade, who was widely seen as one of Bryant’s rivals during their playing days, discussed his relationship with him, according to Paul Kasabian of Bleacher Report:
“I built one. Early on Kobe didn’t have a lot of relationships. I got a chance to build one with the respect of Kobe. I can call him anytime and vice versa. That’s one of the relationships that I’m proud of. To be able to have one with one of my favorite players of all time was special.”
The two shooting guards had several thrilling matchups between them during the regular season with a particularly memorable one being when Bryant hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer off the backboard over Wade at Staples Center. Although Bryant and Wade never got to face each other in the playoffs, there was mutual respect on and off the court and it continued once the former retired from basketball.
Wade and Bryant did, however, get a chance to team up on the 2008 Men’s Olympic Basketball team that brought home the gold and redeemed USA Basketball. While Bryant was key in the gold medal game against Spain, Wade was a key contributor off the bench and helped give them the win.
Even after his passing, Bryant still holds massive influence on the game of basketball and it lives on with the players he grew close to and in the media ventures he was working on. Bryant was a vocal advocate for women’s basketball while his children’s book series has been featured on the New York Times and Amazon’s best-selling lists.
While Bryant is sorely missed, his legacy will never be forgotten given all he is done both on and off the court for the game of basketball and that is something fans can cherish.