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Basketball legend Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of players

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Basketball legend Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of players

Kobe Bryant, who died on Sunday in a helicopter crash in California at the age of 41, was one of the most talented players in the league's history, an 18-year-old All-Star, an NBA two-final MVP and the 2007- 2008 League MVP. As a member of the USA team, he won gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. His 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 are the second highest total in a game in NBA history. In his final game in 2016, he scored 60 points against Utah Jazz, the most players in his last contest.

On Saturday night, LeBron James passed Bryant to become the third greatest scorer of all time in league history, which Bryant celebrated with a tweet congratulating his former opponent and Olympic teammate.

A titanic figure who inspired a generation of basketball players nationally and internationally, Bryant made his debut in 1996 at the age of 18 and played 20 seasons with the Lakers before retiring. Bryant and the Shaquille O'Neal center took the Lakers to a remarkable feat of winning three consecutive titles from 1999 to 2002 – something accomplished by just two other franchises – and won two more titles between 2008 and 2010 after the departure of O & # 39; Neal . After his retirement, Bryant secured himself as a Los Angeles legend and one of the most iconic athletes in world history.

Kobe Bryant leaves memories of a stellar basketball career, but a shadowy shadow – video

His stardom reached far beyond Los Angeles, as he led the league in shirt sales five times in his career and is believed to have sold more shirts internationally than any NBA player except Michael Jordan. Son of Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant, who played in the NBA for eight seasons before becoming a star in Italy, Kobe Bryant was arguably the most mundane of all NBA stars in history – he could confidently conduct Spanish interviews and Italian – and was instrumental in raising the international profile of the sport.

His international popularity may even shrink his national celebrity, as he was routinely known to crowds of fans – he had to escape 15,000 beloved supporters when he landed in China for an appearance in the late 2000s – wherever he traveled.

In the game, Bryant will be remembered as one of basketball's fiercest competitors, tireless workers and demanding teammates. With an intense and often relentless insistence on attention to detail and fundamental solidity, Bryant's mastery of basketball mechanics – proper defensive positioning, mid-jump shooting and unmatched stamina – made him one of the most admired players in the game at one time dominated by Chicago Legend of the bulls Michael Jordan.

Fans gather to pay respect to Kobe Bryant after his death. Photo: Gene Blevins / Reuters

Much of Bryant's appeal to aspiring athletes came from what he called "The Mamba Mentality", which Bryant described as "if you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear". His unique obsession with discipline, victory and enormous personality made him one of the most polarizing players of his time – he faced public disagreements with O'Neal, coach Phil Jackson and several onerous negotiations with Lakers management. Her public legacy was marked by a sexual assault scandal in 2003, when a 19-year-old hotel employee accused Bryant of raping her in a hotel room. Bryant admitted to committing adultery and apologized to the accuser, but denied the assault charges. The criminal charges were eventually dropped and the parties filed a civil suit.

What was never questioned was his devotion to the basketball game, the admiration he inspired throughout the league and the love he had for his four daughters, one of whom, Gianna, died with him at the age of 13. He celebrated his career. An Oscar-winning short, Dear Basketball, and became one of the most vocal advocates of the game in retirement. He became central to the development of his daughter Gianna's career, acting as coach and mentor of his teams and emerged as a major influence in women's basketball. Gianna is the second of her four daughters, between Natalia, 17 years old, three years old . Bianka and Capri, seven months old.

Bryant routinely visited the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks as an informal consultant and worked with other women at all levels of basketball. One of Bryant's last viral photos was of him offering tips to Gianna, herself a promising teenage prospect, during a game last month.

"People need to follow Kobe's example and I'm not just talking about NBA players," Sparks star Chiney Ogwumike told the Los Angeles Times in May. “Many men tend to speak (women's basketball) without knowing and many men tend to ignore female basketball players. But … I bet you would like your daughter to play at the WNBA if she is good at basketball. Then follow his example.

Bryant's loss is seismic, not just for basketball, but for a generation of Los Angeles natives whose bedroom walls have been adorned with his posters and the countless people he has inspired over his 20-year career. The loss of a legend that has matured from basketball superstar to dedicated family man (Vanessa's husband) to global basketball ambassador is a palpable tragedy that left the world shocked, sad and recalling the emotions he has delivered over three decades. As longtime NBA coach David Fizdale told ESPN on Sunday, "The Lakers are the heart of Los Angeles and Kobe Bryant was the blood running through him."

. (tagsToTranslate) Kobe Bryant (t) Basketball (t) NBA (t) Sport

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