Swing and Swish: Kobe Bryant begins his farewell tour

Sports Editor Mike Moxley discusses current events and issues in basketball and golf. Reading this column will keep you caught up with your favorite teams and players.


In 1996, the 17-year-old Kobe Bryant began his NBA career. “I have decided to skip college and take my talents to the uhh….I have decided to take my talents to the NBA,” Bryant said in a press conference held by ESPN. Bryant paused in the middle of the announcement, because he made a bet with his teammates from high school to do the pause.

During his highschool years at Lower Merion High School, Bryant scored over 2800 points and was a McDonald’s All American. He was the thirteenth overall pick in the 1996 draft by the Charlotte Hornets. Immediately after, Bryant was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant has had a highly decorated career. Five championships, a league MVP, 17 all-star appearances, and over 33,000 points. He is still, to this day, the youngest to ever win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest at the age of 18 in 1997.

However, Bryant struggled his first few years in the league, coming off the bench. It wasn’t until head coach Phil Jackson came to town, that he began to showcase his talents. Jackson had won six championships prior with Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan and had the key to success, the Triangle Offense. Implementing this offense with Bryant and the newly acquired Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers went on to three peat from 2000-2002.

After and even during the three peat O’Neal and Bryant struggled to get along. It got to the point where enough was enough. O’Neal; was traded to the Miami Heat and Bryant remained the face of the Lakers.

In 2006, Bryant scored a historic 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.  It was the second highest scoring performance in league history, behind Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 100 in 1962. That same season, Bryant would become, at the time, the youngest player to reach 20,000 points in his career at the age of 29 and 122 days.  

From 2008 to 2010 Bryant led the Lakers to the NBA Finals each year. In 2008 they fell to the Boston Celtics 2-4 in the series. Bryant led the Lakers to back-to-back championships against the Orlando Magic in 2009 and Celtics in 2010. It was during this run that he was dubbed the nickname “Black Mamba.” This nickname was given to him due to his quickness and his ability to come at you in a plethora of ways.

Since the fifth championship the Lakers have struggled tremendously. Bryant injured his achilles during game 80 in the 2013-14 regular season, just two games away from the playoffs. The Lakers were in excellent playoff position, but it turned out to be a “what if” season.

The next couple of seasons were injury plagued. After his achilles, it was his knee. Then after the knee, he tore his labrum and sat out the majority of the 2014-15 season.

He finally returned to action this year and has yet to return to “Kobe” form. He lacks explosiveness and it looks like father time is catching up to him. The Lakers have struggled with him in or out of the lineup, but reporters began to hint that Bryant could be hanging it up after this year.

A few weeks after these rumors surfaced, Bryant announced his retirement at season’s end. After that announcement, every arena he has gone to for the last time pay their respects to him. The crowd is also jam-packed to see the future first ballot hall of famer in his farewell tour.

Bryant changed the game of basketball from a mental standpoint. Similar to Michael Jordan, Bryant would get in these “zones” where he was just going to come down and score. It didn’t matter if he was double-teamed, he would will the ball in the net.

He has had an illustrious career and has been called by many, a top 10 player in the history of the game. This season will be his last and Bryant is soaking up every last minute of it.

Mike Moxley is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.