By Dr. Brandon Spradley |
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the entire world lost one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. Kobe Bryant, a 5-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers was found dead from a helicopter accident on Sunday, January 26, 2020.
Bryant was one of nine people who died when the helicopter crashed on a hillside in Calabasas, California. Also in the crash was Bryant’s 13-year old daughter Gianna. Our thoughts and prayers go out the Bryant family after this tragic news. It is also important to give our condolences to the family members of the other seven victims who lost their lives.
This is certainly a surreal moment for all of us who had the pleasure of watching Kobe over his 20-year career. At age 41, he was at a point in which he transcended basketball, becoming a global icon who was admired and respected by many people across the globe.
Most of the current players in the NBA looked up to Kobe as a role model when it came to the sport of basketball. Nicknamed the Black Mamba, Kobe inspired players of all ages with his competitive drive and fearless attitude, which was eventually coined as “the Mamba Mentality”. Even as a 17-year old kid coming into the NBA out of high school, he was known as a fierce competitor and relentless worker. Kobe was destined for greatness.
Here is a simple reminder of just how great Kobe Bryant was as a basketball player. He is the only player in NBA history to have two numbers retired by the same team. Kobe won three NBA titles wearing No. 8 and two more titles wearing No. 24 before retiring in 2016. Let us pay respect to Kobe, his family, and all of the family and friends that lost a loved one from this tragic accident.
Dr. Brandon Spradley is the Chair of Sports Management and an Associate Professor at the United States Sports Academy.