By Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson
Tonight in Toronto, Kobe Bryant will compete in his final NBA All Star Game. It will be his 18th appearance, all as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, his career produced five NBA championships, one NBA MVP Award, and numerous All-Defensive NBA teams.
Bryant’s career includes everything but the kitchen sink and with him hanging it up at season’s end, the narrative of his lasting legacy has become daily banter on radio and the water cooler. That dialogue is quite similar to the narrative of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, the newly minted Super Bowl 50 champion.
Drafted two years apart in their respective sport, Bryant 13th in 1996, Manning first in 1998, there’s no doubt that they have both left an indelible imprint on their leagues. A decade and a half has came and gone and it’s mind-boggling to consider them both elder statesmen in their league; but it’s a factual reality.
“That’s nice, elder statesman,” Kobe joked Friday.”He’s older than I am, that’s one guy that I know that’s older than me.”
For the record, Kobe is 37 and Peyton is 39. At 11-44, the Lakers in all likelihood won’t be in the playoffs. Widely believed that Peyton Manning will retire from football, one could only fathom how Kobe would enjoy a similar sendoff.
“It would have been amazing,” said a glowing Bryant. “It would have been amazing, but you know, it just wasn’t meant to be. But at the same time, I couldn’t complain about it. I’ve enjoyed winning to the tune of five championships and been very fortunate to have those. Most players haven’t been able to get one. So, you gotta be able to take the good with the bad.”
With Bryant’s last All Star Game tonight, Michael Jordan honored Bryant on Friday. His Airness’ Jordan Brand gave Bryant a full set of all 30 Air Jordan sneakers at the Jordan Brand All-Star party in which Bryant attended.
You can hear Kobe’s father Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant react for the first time to his son’s retirement on the Brown and Scoop podcast below.
Brandon Robinson is a sports and entertainment writer and TV personality. You can catch him daily on CBS Radio Play.it’s Brown and Scoop Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @SCOOPB and visit www.ScoopB.com.