The fadeaway jumper isn’t perfect. While it looks great a lot of the time, it’s often not the ideal shot. But it won’t apologize for what it is.
While it’s not always successful, it does always leave you clinging to the edge of your seat, waiting to see what’s going to happen next.
For Kobe Bryant, the fadeaway jumper isn’t just his signature shot, it’s a representation his entire career: beautiful, confident, dramatic, and unapologetic. Tonight, that career comes to an end as Kobe suits up as a Laker one last time. At 37, Kobe is a 20 year NBA veteran who has been playing a game of chicken with his body for the last several years. He announced at the beginning of this season that it would be his last, and with the Lakers poor performance on the court leaving them well out of the playoff picture, the year has been a farewell tour for the man fans know as “Black Mamba.”
Few professional athletes, let alone basketball players, have left a mark on the game they play the way Kobe has impacted basketball. And it’s not just his stats. Sure, who wouldn’t love to have five NBA Championships, 2 NBA Finals MVPs 18 All-Star Game selections, four All-Star Game MVPs, two Olympic gold medals, and the Lakers all-time scoring title? But guards play differently because of Kobe. Defenders defend differently because of Kobe. Basketball is different because of Kobe. So is Los Angeles.
Unlike his signature shot, Kobe will certainly not fade away from the game of basketball or from Los Angeles. The memorable moments he created are too many to forget. He has yet to say where life will take him after the NBA, and while he’ll be remembered by some more for his polarizing and sometimes cryptic persona than his skills, his legacy and connection to this city and to the game of basketball are undeniable.
Where does Kobe rank among the all-time greatest Lakers? Among the all-time greatest L.A. sports stars? Among the greatest NBA players ever?
A Martinez, host of KPCC’s Take Two