LOS ANGELES: With skill breathtaking and a ruthless will to win Kobe Bryant stamped his authority on the NBA, leaving a mark that will remain long after the guard Los Angeles Lakers play the last game of his 20-year career on Wednesday.Bryant, 37, will walk away with five NBA titles, having secured his place not only among these icons as Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Jerry West, but also in the pantheon of great NBA still chaired by Michael Jordan.
“I studied it, I wanted to be like him,” Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant ahead, the MVP of the NBA over 2014, said when Bryant announced in November that this season would be his last.
“He was our Michael Jordan,” said Durant, “a guy who changed the game for me as a player mentally and physically .. someone I will always look for advice for anything. Just one, intelligent bright brilliant man. ”
These awards have flocked since November, even fans long hostile arenas Bryant showers with affection as a dark Lakers season evolved into a Kobe farewell tour concludes at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz.
Courtside seats for what promises to be a glittering event going on StubHub ticket resale site for just under $ 20,000, with the cheapest seats to go over $ 600.
Those who do not receive may still attend a Lakers fan-fest sponsored by outside the arena.
“He deserves it after 20 years,” said Eric Pincus, who covers the Lakers for Bryant and the Los Angeles Times and Basketballinsiders.com. “Very few players play 20 basketball, a typical career could be five years, seven years. ”
The celebrations are an ironic final twist in the career of a player whose uncompromising nature has made him a polarizing figure.
Bryant has produced some of the most dazzling scoring performance in NBA – topped by his 81 points rage against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 – and stands third in all-time scoring list in the league behind only Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone and Jordan before.
But critics have hammered him as an “ineffective” shooter, selfishly do not want to share the ball with his teammates, Bryant hit a rejected on Twitter last year with the succinct comment: “account to 5.”
For Bryant, asset titles all, a philosophy that propelled him to global stardom, even as he teammates rivals and opponents mortal enemies.
Bryant Shaquille O’Neal feuded with famous after teaming with him to lead the Lakers to titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002, public hostilities that persist long after O’Neal and Bryant had left on to win two championships.
Phil Jackson, who guided the Lakers to three titles and two more in 2009 and 2010, marked his sometimes fractious “uncoachable” star in his autobiography.
“Kobe is not necessarily known as the most handsome guy, he would tell you himself that he did not win by being nice, he won by being competitive and be vicious,” said Pincus. “It turned people along the way, so he has many enemies, many fans who love and a lot of other teams fans who hated him.
“But now all this is over, I think everybody respects him.”
Off the court, an accusation of rape in 2003 by a 19-year-old woman clouded Colorado Bryant’s reputation and cost him several endorsement contracts.
The case was dismissed when the alleged victim refused to testify, and Bryant’s stock rose again.
Forbes estimated this month that Bryant promotion contracts and business partnerships swelled his career earnings to $ 465 million, and the figure is expected to reach $ 680 million by the time he bows out for good.
This him the greatest athlete of the extrapolation team in history, with only boxer Floyd Mayweather, golfer Tiger Woods and Formula One driver Michael Schumacher accumulate greatest fortunes in sport do.
Some experts have questioned the loyalty of Lakers that Bryant stacked injuries and contribution decreased, suggesting that they should invest more in reconstruction rather than supporting a figure of aging bow.
Reports before the 2014-15 season as the top free agents are wary of joining such a team mate in Los Angeles Master task were treated harshly by-owner and president Jeanie Buss, who said a fear of playing with Bryant was ” probably a loser. ”
But the fact remains that Bryant was limited by injury just six games in 2013-14, worked two seasons for a Lakers team with young talent failed to gel around the veteran star.
Lakers coach Byron Scott described a dream scenario for the final game of Bryant, the “Black Mamba” draining a fadeaway jumper brand to win in a close game.
But for Bryant, the competitive fire that fueled his rise to stardom means that it may be Hollywood ending in a season where the Lakers again set a club record for defeats.
“Winning a championship, and that is not the case,” Bryant said of his only dream scenario. “The dream is done.