Fireside Chats: The Reign of Kobe Bryant
This is going to be an interesting journey down the legacy road of Kobe Bryant and how his impact will remain even after retirement, so please bear with me. It hasn’t even been a full season since Kobe has retired, but the pundits have started to come out in full force with hopes of putting his career into perspective. While I would love to tell them to calm the fuck down and stop trying to rank players, unfortunately I cannot stop trolls on the internet. Instead, what we will start to see is the legacy of Kobe be taken for granted. You know who else was taken for granted? Superman, so they decided to kill him for shock value.
Told you this is was going to be interesting. And yes, I am comparing Kobe’s retirement to a 1992 character arc of one of the most famous comic book heroes of all time, and it makes sense.
I understand that Kobe’s teammate was nicknamed Diesel and had a Superman “S” tatted on his biceps, but the way people have soured on Kobe is very similar to the way Superman was viewed during the early 90s. Comic fans can back me up here. For Superman or Kobe to be killed/retire, they would need a villain so transcendent that fans wouldn’t complain about the decision. After Superman was brutally killed by Doomsday, the DC Comics team decided to introduce four new characters that all have a stake in the Superman mantle: Metropolis Kid, Man of Tomorrow, Man of Steel, and Last Son of Krypton. Humor me, and let’s refer to Lebron as Doomsday for the sake of this article.
Now, I think you know where this idea is moving… right?
Although there will never be another Kobe Bryant (much like there will never be another Superman), there are four players in my mind that have some Mamba blood:
- The Metropolis Kid: Devin Booker
The Metropolis Kid also was referred to as Superboy, making this comparison a little more obvious than most since Devin Booker has the makings of a Kobe clone. Booker is a 6'6 shooting guard who put the league on notice last year as an 18 year old with the same level of swag as a young Kobe. Both Kobe and Devin Booker have similar builds, are high usage two guards, and best of all, are classic trash talkers. If you need more, one of my favorite anecdotes from last season was Booker having the confidence to drop the iconic Kobe fadeaway during his first matchup against the vet. This didn’t go unnoticed on Kobe, who praised Booker after the game for having the same spirit and mindset. Can we force the league to trade Ingram for Booker?
- The Man of Tomorrow: Russell Westbrook
In the comics, the Man of Tomorrow is an evil, cyborg clone of Superman. In this theory, he is Russell Westbrook. Westbrook oozes with the confidence and bravado of Kobe, but is an absolute freak of an athlete that you don’t see all too often. Both Kobe and Westbrook have often been criticized by the media for overshooting and phasing out their teammates by trying to do too much, but they share a love for the game that is unmatched by most. Plus, we all know the rumor that Russell might actually be half robot.
- The Man of Steel: Damian Lillard
At first I struggled with finding the player who best represents the idea of Steel, but after much consideration, I can say for certain Lillard is definitely that guy. In the comics, Steel was the only hero who didn’t assume the Superman title. Instead, he wanted to be himself. Does that sound like anyone you know? Damian Lillard is 100% true to himself and will fight anyone that attempts to say otherwise. Like Kobe, he is a very proud player that holds himself to a certain standard, earning him the title of Man of Steel.
- The Last Son of Kobe: Isaiah Thomas
Yes I know I changed the name from Krypton to Kobe but it just sounds better. This might be a little bit of a stretch, but in my eyes, Isaiah Thomas embodies everything that Kobe is about. If Kobe Bryant attempted to clone himself like Dr. Evil did and out came a miniature version, it would be Isaiah Thomas. Some people think that IT is more Iverson than anyone, but I think everyone remembers the practice rant… IT takes no days off. These two are absolute lions and their actions on the court show that. When most players want to be admired or praised, these two want to be feared.
There might be other players like Kawhi who have some Kobe in their overall game or tenacity, but the real point here is to have this elusive Mamba blood. What is Mamba blood? Well, to have it, you need to be clutch, have a “me against the world” mentality, and most importantly, you need to be a little bit of a dickhead. Winning is everything for these guys, and it’s ok if they lose a friend or two along the way because in the end, all that matters is if their team wins.
If you were wondering how the story ended with Superman, he was actually in the Fortress of Solitude just trying to regain his strength (he also grew out his hair to look like an early 90s hockey player but that’s sort of irrelevant here). My main point? Don’t take Kobe for granted, accept him for who he was. Stop being a hipster NBA Fan.