While there was certainly a decline in Kobe Bryant’s play during his last years with the Los Angeles Lakers, there was never any doubt about his status as an international superstar. Despite now being retired, the accolades continue to pour in for the five-time champ.
In a poll conducted by the NBPA where awards are voted on solely by NBA players, Kobe was recognized as the player with the “Most Global Impact”:
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) August 4, 2016
The fact that Kobe has been awarded this honor should definitely come as no surprise, given that he’s lead the league in international jersey sales almost every year since 2008. Although the Lakers have largely been one of the worst teams in the league the past few years, fan loyalty along with the respect of fellow players, never seemed to waver.
Just looking at Kobe’s roots as a kid growing up in Italy, everything about him just screams “global impact.” Aside from being purple and gold royalty here in Los Angeles, Kobe has garnered die-hard fan bases around the world, including the world’s most-populous nation in China.
Kobe has been pretty busy since his retirement and has garnered his fair share of awards since his final game concluded. He was awarded the Icon Award at the ESPYs and also received the Legend Award at Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards.
Despite Kobe dealing with a multitude of injuries over his final couple of years in the NBA, and his production dropping off because of it, his popularity always remained, which says a lot about how important he was around the world.
Like Magic, Bird, and MJ before him, Kobe has left the game of basketball in a better position than it was before.