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Kobe Bryant, the lethal smile of the 81 points

The American Kobe Bryant (Philadelphia, 08-23-1978), who died this Sunday at age 41, will always be remembered as one of the best players in the history of basketball, the sport where he accumulated innumerable achievements and historical performances, including 81 points he scored with the shirt of his Lakers, the only one he wore for 20 seasons in the NBA.

It was 14 years ago, specifically on January 22, 2006, when Bryant left that score in a game against Toronto Raptors. Only Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 100 points in a game in 1962, during a very different time than today, surpasses him throughout history. Both now share the imaginary pantheon of the Lakers.

That amazing guarismo was the highlight of a career marked by the extremely competitive nature of the ‘Black Mamba’, a forward with so much talent that he did not even have to go through the prestigious university NCAA. From the Lower Merion Institute in his native Philadelphia and at just 18 years old, Charlotte Hornets selected him in the 1996 ‘draft’ and transferred his rights to the Lakers.

With the number ‘8’ during the first half of his career, which would later change to ’24’, Bryant lived a soft landing in the NBA and was not even the best rookie of the year in his first course, honor that corresponded to another great promise like Allen Iverson, but soon it was uncovered as a star of memorable dyes.

Thus, it was the axis of two winning cycles of the Lakers in which he conquered a total of five rings. The first three were put in the form hand in the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, under the command of a born winner like Phil Jackson and forming a lethal couple on the court with Shaquille O’Neal, which he ended up distancing himself after a Tense struggle of egos.

Much better relationship always maintained with his great ‘squire’ in the rings won in 2009 and 2010: Pau Gasol. He always referred to the pivot as his ‘Spanish brother’ and together, again under Jackson’s command, they returned the glory to the purple and gold franchise.

Unbeatable playing together, Bryant and Gasol also starred in great battles as rivals in the Olympic Games. The American hung the golds of Beijing’08 and London’12 at the head of the ‘Dream Team’, but in both cases both he and the other American stars had to fight hard to knock Spain out.

Thus, five rings and two Olympic medals lead a record of legend where there are also countless achievements: an MVP of the NBA, two MVPs of the Finals, 18 nominations for the ‘All Star’, twice the highest scorer of the season, a contest de mates and even an Oscar film prize he won two years ago for a short film turned into a declaration of love for basketball.

Among the black points of his biography, the sexual scandal with a hotel employee in 2003 that was about to ruin his career and his family, or the hardness with which he came to publicly treat some teammates, derived from his eternal Refusal to accept defeat.

This same weekend, Bryant’s name, retired in 2016 after many injury problems, had returned to the fore after LeBron James snatched third place on the list of top scorers in the NBA. Star as a player and historical idol since his retirement from the Lakers, who withdrew their two numbers, Bryant’s death now elevates him to the category of angel legend.

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