Kobe Bryant’s rise to one-name immortality has seen several chapters write themselves throughout his storied career. The world marveled at his theatrics while at Lower Merion High School in the mid ’90s. His controversial yet successful union with Shaq is a staple of early 2000’s pop culture. His vulnerabilities, both personal and professional, were shown through his sexual assault case and the days when Smush Parker was his backcourt mate. Now, he is known as the game’s marquee closer, winner and general with the opportunity to tie you-know-who with six championship rings come this summer. Yep, Kobe Bean Bryant has seen it all and lived it all on a basketball court.
This year marks his 13th consecutive All-Star Game and one where Bean finds himself as the overall leading vote getter. The NBA has been using Facebook to take part in a Kobe tribute of sorts for weeks now leading to the game with his greatest moments, plays and seasons. Throughout his career, Madison Square Garden has been a personal indoor playground and shop of horrors for Knicks fans. Yet many may not remember it is also the arena where he played his very first mid-season classic.
The finest element about the near three minute clip is Kobe’s own excitement. His understanding of the magnitude of the stage and the opportunity in front of him is beyond evident. He resembled the little kid in Chuck-E-Cheese for the first time or the child who woke up early Christmas morning to unwrap his gifts. Kobe played above the rim – a sharp contrast to the man we see now – and his competitive nature shined as he eagerly attempted to hang on for dear life guarding Michael Jordan.
With his career having more years behind it than in front, these visual memories will grow to harbor more and more prestige. This was before opinions on who he was as a man and a player had really began to cement his legacy, for better and worse. This was even before “The Black Mamba” became his alter ego. This was merely Kobe and his mini-fro living the dream every 19-year-old wishes they could.