As Kobe Bryant approaches his final season in the NBA, this is a situation the Lakers great has never been in before. For his entire career, Bryant has always prided himself upon being the best in the league. His killer instinct mentality has always allowed him to get the best of other rising stars.
Michael Jordan, for one, never turned his head to the idea of Kobe being his replacement as the icon of the NBA. He welcomed the fact that he would retire, and that the torch must be passed. Kobe is now at that point in his career where a sense of acceptance and pride has been expressed via Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
“I look at the players who are playing currently and watch the things that they say and the aggressiveness that they play with. And I understand that they grew up watching me play, just as I grew up watching Michael play. That’s a great feeling. It really is.
Kobe was never afraid to give his all against the greats like Jordan. The cockiness that the 18-year-old Bryant exuded on a nightly basis is now a trait of the opposition.
Before a one-point loss courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves, UCLA prodigy Zach Levine was on record to say that he was going to play extra hard against his childhood idol, Kobe. A career-high of 28 points by LaVine stunned the Lakers.
The 19-year veteran has learned a sense of humbleness at this stage of his career. He recognizes that these young players are not going to hold anything back because they have something to prove just like he did.
Kobe has been the player that players look forward to playing because of the respect that his legend has acquired over his future Hall of Fame career. Instead of disregarding the impact he has on the league, Kobe has embraced it in full on his way to third on the all-time scoring list.[divide]
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