Unexpectedly ending his legendary 20-year NBA career, Kobe Bryant’s passing was undoubtedly a hard hit to the world. In honoring the “Black Mamba”, we look back on his greatest moments inside and outside the court.
Legendary 81-point outburst
Back on January 22, 2006, Kobe made history with his iconic 81-point game that rallied the Los Angeles Lakers against the Toronto Raptors, making it the second highest-scoring performance behind Wilt Chamberlain’s remarkable 100-point game in 1962.
Out of 46 shots in 42 minutes, Kobe made 28 with a dash of 18 free throws. He totaled 27 points in the third quarter, 28 points in the final period, and had two assists. Kobe averaged a league-best 35.4 points per game on that season, yet came through with an 81-point drop on the Toronto Raptors in a 122-104 win.
Three quarters, 62 points
In December 2005, Kobe’s 62-point performance against the Dallas Mavericks made a mark of its own even before his 81-point game.
32 minutes of gameplay later and Kobe scored 62 points on 31 shots. Leaving the Dallas far behind gave Kobe the entire fourth quarter for bench time.
To give more context, Kobe’s total points alone surpassed the whole Dallas Mavericks’ 61 at the end of the third quarter.
The Game 7 alley-oop and the Boston dunk
One of Kobe’s legendary court moments wasn’t a score but a pass.
With under a minute spared for the Lakers, then up by four and locked against the Portland Trailblazers during Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, Kobe dribbled the ball and skied an alley-oop, which Shaquille O’Neal single-handedly grabbed and dunked into the ring. Yet another Lakers-triumph, Bryant and O’Neal went on winning three straight titles from 2000 to 2002.
Additionally, averaging 28.6 points per game during Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Kobe clawed his second straight NBA Finals MVP after scoring 23 points on 6 of 24 shooting, with 15 rebounds, sealing the Lakers’ championship against the Boston Celtics.
Kobe’s free throws while injured
At 34, Kobe was seen limping after falling to the ground during a tight battle against the Golden State Warriors in April 2013. With a devastatingly torn Achilles tendon in his left leg, Kobe still managed to stay in the game and score two free throws, drawing the game to a tie at 109.
The Achilles injury was a hard blow to the Lakers, for Kobe’s final seasons displayed a drastic drop in his performances, taking a toll on the team’s eligibility to finish the playoffs. His low seasons brought about his announcement of his retirement after the 2016 season.
When his final sold-out game at the Staples Center came, Kobe saved the best for his last as he scored 60 points – his highest total in 2016. Truly a defined NBA player, Kobe ended his performance with the legendary “Mamba out!” remark, trailed by a flying kiss.
The Unflinching Kobe
After a heated exchange with Orlando Magic’s Matt Barnes in 2010, Bryant stood on firm defense as Barnes bossed the ball from a referee and passed it inbounds. When Barnes fake-threw the ball into Bryant’s face, he was seen in the same position, no flinches recorded.
Just Kobe being Kobe, always putting his head in the game.
‘Dear Basketball’ Oscar
In winning his Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for “Dear Basketball” during the 90th Annual Academy Awards in 2018, Kobe accepted the award with Glen Keane (director and animator) and claimed in his speech, “As basketball players, we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”
Based on his own poem for The Players’ Tribune in 2015, Kobe outpoured his passion for playing, expressed his genuine farewell, and swore by his eternal dedication to being a player in the film.
King James Reigns as the AP Male Athlete of the Year
King James has been making waves this year for his active participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. He also used his influence to encourage citizens of America to vote in the 2020 Presidential elections. Throughout the pandemic lockdowns, he provided relief efforts to people affected by the economic downfall.
On top of all of these, James just added another NBA championship ring to his collection. His spectacular performance on the court brought the Los Angeles Lakers back on top of the basketball league. With this victory came his fourth championship title and his fourth Finals MVP trophy.
Making things go full circle is The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year recognition, which was awarded to him for the fourth time last Saturday.
Inspiring and Empowering People
LeBron James knows his way around the court, establishing his name as one of the league’s greatest players. However, this year, he realized that he could make an even more significant impact outside the game. He sought out to continue inspiring people through his passion for basketball and off the floor to help build a more empowered, cultivated, and united society.
Through his non-profit organization called More Than A Vote, James drew over 42,000 people to volunteer at polling stations during the recently concluded elections. Likewise, he was able to advocate for turnout among Black and young, first-time voters.
According to AP VoteCast, Black voters comprised 11% of the national electorate and that 9 out of every 10 elected Joe Biden. It is also evident that the president-elect performed well in major states populated mainly by Black Americans. Among which are NBA cities such as Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Detroit.
A Great Leader in Sports
James’ NBA scoring and assist record remains unmatched this year. He surpassed Kobe Bryant’s, who held the number 3 spot on the all-time scoring list last January. His impressive achievements did not stop there as he is now officially the only player in the league who was awarded NBA Finals MVP for three different franchises.
In true King James fashion, he already has his eyes on 2021 and the new NBA season. The Lakers are expected to come back strong and conditioned to work for a back-to-back championship.
The Prestige of the AP Award
James will now be joining Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong’s likes in holding the record for winning the Male Athlete of the Year award four times—2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020. Recognized by his teammates as one of the most outstanding leaders in sports, he was also awarded as AP’s male athlete of the decade.
Michael Jordan was the only other basketball player who won the AP award more than once.
Sports World Today Still Heavily Affected by Covid-19
The unprecedented outbreak of the novel coronavirus badly impacted the normal sports routine worldwide. Massive suspension and cancellation of various sports events were initiated in a move to curb the rapid transmission of the deadly virus earlier this year. Let’s take a look, however, at the condition of the sports world today.
In the world of basketball, Mississippi coach Kermit Davis unfortunately tests positive for COVID-19. His condition might result to him being placed at the sidelines when the season finally begins. The news was announced earlier on Tuesday, adding that Davis will undergo a second test. If he, however, tests positive again, he will be forced to opt out of the Rebels’ first couple of games as he will be required to go through self-quarantine at home.
To offset his absence, though, Ronnie Hamilton is expected to play as head coach during the upcoming home events on November 25 and 26. The Rebels are scheduled to go against Central Arkansas and Jackson State on the said dates. To soften the blow, Davis will be allowed to watch through the practice sessions and even contact the team via virtual means.
During the scheduled basketball season opening, the Indiana Hoosiers won’t have the usual live audience to cheer them on. According to school authorities, the stands will indefinitely remain empty. Nevertheless, officials plan to work closely with local health authorities and the campus and Big Ten leaders to find out when fans can be permitted to enter the Assembly Hall.
The sports world today is anticipating the time when new normal protocols will provide them easier gameplay. As for the Hoosiers, they are used to having the biggest basketball student fanbase.
To stem the lack of live audience, the university plans to put cutouts for sale. These cutouts will be placed on the empty seats. They will be priced at US$25 a piece with the option of having either women’s coach Teri Moren or men’s coach Archie Miller autograph these cutouts which will, then, be sent to the fans who purchase the tickets. Also, ticket buyers are guaranteed to avail of refunds or simply avail of the different options via the varsity club’s online site.
As for Tennessee Tech, the school is presently undergoing a difficult time with regard to their attempt to begin their women’s basketball season. Vanderbilt cancelled their game and then Chattanooga followed suit.
On Tuesday morning, Vanderbilt announced the necessity of cancelling their game against Tennessee Tech that was scheduled for November 25 due to the sudden occurrence of positive tests among their athletes. Following that announcement, Chattanooga made a similar call, stating the need to halt activities for a two-week quarantine. The said move resulted to the cancellation of their schedule games against Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.
Indeed, the sports world today is still reeling from the hideous impacts of the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak. At present, it is not only basketball events that are being cancelled and suspended. Several other sports are being halted, as well, as sports authorities struggle to find a way to conduct their events while observing the new normal protocols.
Sports Personality of the Year to Show on December
Even when 2020 witnessed various cancellations, suspensions, and modifications of the different sports events due to the unprecedented onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, there were a few programs that were able to push through including snooker, cricket, football, F1, rugby, golf, tennis, cycling and athletics.
The awaited Sports Personality of the Year event will showcase the different teams that pushed through with their games despite the looming threat of the pandemic, sports celebrities who pushed through with playing despite their sudden, chaotic schedules, and stalwart coaches who made it all happen. The said show will also pay tribute to the different heroes who helped contribute to the said success.
“As we know, it has been a strange and unprecedented year, but we have still been fortunate enough to see plenty of sporting highlights which we look forward to honoring on the night. The 67th BBC Sports Personality of the Year award promises to be another exciting and tough choice for audiences,” shares Barbara Slater, BBC’s Director of Sports.
December’s ceremony will serve as a commemoration of the various heroes, not only in sports, but all over the UK—ordinary citizens who used the gift of sports to help make the situation safe and bearable for all. In a way, the show will be a celebration of health and well-being—the powerful contributions that sports can provide as it keeps people inspired as highlights of this year’s games will be shown during the event, as well.
The present COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions in the world of sports. Most scheduled tournaments including the Olympics, the Wimbledon, and the Euro 2020 were severely disrupted as necessary lockdowns and social distancing protocols were put in place to control the abrupt spread of the nefarious disease. At present, many sports programs are attempting to revive the usual flow of things as they grapple with the current social distancing limitations imposed.
The need to wear masks, for instance, makes it difficult for players to move comfortably especially for group games like football, cricket, rugby, and snooker. Experts recommend the need to limit the audience allowed to attend the games, as COVID-19 transmission is highly linked to massive crowd gatherings.
COVID-19 has changed the entire landscape of everyday life. Yet, the slow, but steady, revival of the different games provide athletes and avid sports fans with something to look forward to even when the whole world is still trying to find the best way of handling this ‘new normal’ of living.
The question, however, is: “Will BBC allow a live audience to attend the Sports Personality of the Year event that’s scheduled in December? Or will fans resort to watching the show unfold via live digital streaming, instead? The answer remains to be seen. With the world attempting to slowly find ways to begin life once more, a viable vaccine might be available by then. Nonetheless, everyone is looking forward to the show which will serve as a year’s end consolidation of sorts, as well.
The 2020 Sports Year Amid the Onslaught of COVID-19
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