Kobe Bryant: An Athletic Career Spanning Generations of NBA Play

An Icon of Basketball Retires

A few months ago, Lakers star Kobe Bryant announced that he would end his long, illustrious NBA career at the close of the 2016 season. He has enjoyed one of the most successful records of any leading figure in the sport of Basketball, playing against successive generations of some of the most talented professional athletes in the game.

His fans, from the USA to China, acknowledged his abilities on the court as word of his pending retirement spread. In Beihua University in Northern China for instance, Chinese fans drew a huge image of his face in the snow outdoors to commemorate his retirement announcement.

An Illustrious Career

The six-and-a-half foot tall, 205 pound player joined the Lakers as a rookie in 1996–97, and went on to enjoy one of the longest, most acclaimed careers in the NBA. He remained a Lakers player for the duration of his professional career, ranking third on the list of all-time regular seasons scorers.

His honors include becoming a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team and leading the League in scoring twice. On January 7, 2003 he set an NBA record for making three-point field goals. He helped the Lakers win the NBA Championship five times: 1999–2000, 2000–2001, 2001–2002, 2008–2009, and 2009–2010. Lakers fans in the future will surely notice his absence.

Contending With Successive Generations of Players

Few NBA Odds predict that a star athlete will enjoy 20 years in the NBA, a demanding, highly competitive professional sports arena in which players often arrive like shooting stars and then retire like meteors after only a few years. By that standard, Kobe Bryant has enjoyed a stellar number of successful seasons, contributing significantly every year to his team’s performance. He has also competed against some of the best players in the game.

For instance, early in his career he played games opposing five-time NBA All-Star Reggie Miller, whose illustrious career spanned the period between 1987 to 2005. Like Kobe Bryant, Reggie Miller enjoyed a long, illustrious career in the NBA, playing a total of 1,389 games for the Indiana Pacers. Kobe Bryant also played games against Philadelphia 78er Allen Iverson, the player voted the most valuable NBA Player of the Year in 2001. In 2008, ESPN voted Allen Iverson the 5th greatest shooting guard in the history of the NBA.

More recently, his opponents on the court have included a talented younger generation of rising NBA stars, including Rajon Rondo, who led the NBA in assists from 2011–2013, and Jameer Nelson, who returned after a shoulder injury to participate in the finals for Orlando Magic against the Lakers during 2008–2008 Championship play. Currently a point guard for the Denver Nuggets, Jameer Nelson won the National College Player of the Year award in 2004 before joining Orlando Magic.

Famous Lakers Team Mates

During the early part of his career, Kobe Bryant shared the limelight with several other famous Lakers stars, including fellow NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal, who left the Lakers at the end of the 2003–2004 season to join the Miami Heat. Although the two Lakers stars reportedly sometimes disagreed off the court, they played exceptionally well together on the team. Their combined efforts helped the Lakers achieve three back-to-back Championships.

Kobe Bryant also played with several other renowned Lakers players, including Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Dwight Howard, and more recently, Jordan Clarkson. Although a series of injuries plagued the Laker’s performance during the 2014–15 season, the team benefited from Kobe Bryant’s continued presence. Although many fans likely expected that he might retire soon, most felt grateful he played through this season.

An Important Player

Kobe Bryant won numerous awards during his basketball career. Both his talent as a basketball player and the decades he contributed to the Lakers have left an important legacy for fans of the game.