Remember in 1997 when Bryant threw up not one, not two, but three air balls as a sophomore against the Utah Jazz in Game 5? Some might’ve viewed that as Kobe letting his veteran teammates down in a critical playoff game, but with Fox’s insight, the only person Kobe let down that night was Kobe.
Or how about in 2006, when the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns squared off in an anti-climactic Game 7, one that the Lakers ended up losing 121-90. In that game, Bryant decided to only take three shots in the entire second half. To the naked eye, it was a selfish act of defiance. To Kobe, he likely thought he had taken the supporting cast of Chris Mihm, Smush Parker and Devean George as far as he could, thus having satisfied himself, gave up on the rest of his team.
Bryant has had a lot of success in his career. In hindsight, a lot of those successes are on his own terms, especially after he drove Shaq out of town in the summer of 2004.
Scoring 81 points. Dropping 55 on Jordan when he was a Wizard. Being the sole alpha male on the 2009 and 2010 championship teams.
All those are examples of Laker successes being contingent on Kobe having success on his own terms.
We are much closer to the end of Bryant’s career than we are to the apex of it.
A lot of us were wondering what his big announcement at the Sports Spectacular charity event was going to be. Mainly fearing he would announce when he would retire from basketball that night.
Bryant scoffed at the notion of retiring on Twitter upon hearing those rumours make their rounds on the Internet.
While we are made to believe Bryant can’t retire because he has to honor the last year of his contract, we now have a better idea of why he can’t truly retire yet.
He has to overcome this Achilles injury in order to retire on top and on his own terms. I also have a hunch he has a couple more things he’s yet to check off on that bucket list he complied for himself when he was 15 or 16.
Besides Jackson’s books, the most detailed account of Bryant’s personal life comes from a Sports Illustrated feature about his father Joe, back in May 2012. Chris Ballard, the author, ends the article by writing “Joe Bryant may never be great, but he is happy. Kobe Bryant may never be happy, and perhaps that’s what makes him great.”
Even though we now have further access to Kobe’s thoughts through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we’ll never truly grasp how a man can sacrifice happiness in his life for the relentless pursuit of perfection in his professional life.
Add that to the endless list of reasons why we all admire Kobe.