Tonight was emotional for every player who stepped on the court. Playing on the death anniversary of Kobe Bryant, who was the idol to a lot of players coming into the league, would have been extremely tough.
Prior to the Rockets game against the Wizards, star point guard John Wall spoke about what he loved about Kobe. He said, “Everybody’s got to die at some point, but legends never die… The most important thing to me, though, was the role he took on after basketball. That was being a father. Doing everything he could to be around his family. With the time he gave away for 20 years. That’s what made Kobe so special.”
Post his playing career, Kobe spent most of his time with his family. Even if he came to Staples to watch his Lakers, his daughters would accompany him. Not only did he set an example as a player but also as a father, which is what Wall loved about Kobe.
The first time Wall faced Bryant was during his rookie season in 2010. Wall played beyond his years, as he got 22 points and 14 assists while shooting efficiently as well. He was a menace defensively too, as he got three blocks, with one on Kobe.
“I blocked his shot, and he got the rebound back, scored a three, and said, ‘Play goes on, young fella,'” Wall said later in 2016, during Kobe’s last season. “That was my first time playing against him at Staples Center. That’s one person you can see that sacrificed everything and put it to the side and put the love of basketball first.”
Despite Wall’s excellent game, Kobe triumphed in their first encounter. He had 32 points and reminded the rookie that he was one of the best players in the league. They played six games against each other, with Wall coming out on top in four.
Wall and many other players have learned from him and will be remembering him now. Kobe inspired millions across the globe, and his impact will never be forgotten, both on and off the court.
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