There have been a lot of great basketball players, but few have achieved the status of Legend. Kobe Bryant became a legend the old-fashioned way, through dedication to practice, commitment to his team, enthusiasm for the game, and loyalty to the fans. To become a legend, it’s not enough to be an exceptional player, you must also be an inspiring player. That means not only inspiring kids to want to play like you, but inspiring your peers to up their game so they won’t settle for anything less than their best.
To be a legend it’s also not enough to score points, you must amaze fans with how you score those points. You must look like you’re defying the laws of physics. How did he hang in the air so long? How did he spin around a double-team? How did he sink a shot while balanced on one foot and turned away from the basket? When we see an athlete do such astounding feats, we all start to think there are no limitations to what we can achieve. We are all that much more willing to try to do something amazing.
Legends are not interchangeable. If you showed clips of Dr. J, Magic Johnson, or Michael Jordan playing ball but with their faces and jerseys blurred, you could still recognize each player from their unique style of play. The same with Kobe. His focused style would be recognizable by any fan.
But most important, when a legend takes the court, the fans experience a thrill of excitement in their guts that anything is possible. That at any moment, we might witness something that will shock and delight us. Kobe has been shocking, delighting, and exciting us all for to decades. Other players will rise to greatness, but few will join him in the constellation of legendary.
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