I’ve been a fan of the Lakers all my life, and a fan of Kobe Bryant since he came to the Lakers. I’ve enjoyed his many years of play for my team. I’ve found incredible happiness as I watched Kobe, Shaq and the Lakers Three-Peat at the beginning of the decade, and was sorry that team had to be broken up.
I’ve endured the many hardships since, especially watching Kobe’s personal problems. However, more important than any of the bickering that’s gone on between Kobe and Shaq, more important than the legal troubles Kobe’s been in, he’s given sports fans thrills galore.
We can never really be a part of Kobe’s personal world, but we get to share a little in his public world. Where that sharing is actually an invasion of Kobe’s privacy, I call it abhorrent. Where it’s a sharing of his exploits on the court, I call it wondrous.
Hopefully the Lakers will win it all this year, but even if they don’t, Kobe has given Lakers fans all the entertainment their dollars deserve, and the hope of a championship every year he laces up his sneakers for Los Angeles.
Following is a slideshow of 50 images, including this one, detailing the many reasons why Kobe Bryant is a Sports God.
While at times Kobe has been accused of being a ballhog, he's shown a supreme ability to make his teammates better.
While Kobe is a determined competitor, he always brings out the best in his opponents, who one and all respect and admire him.
While his many detractors don’t give him enough credit for it, Kobe Bryant is a three-time NBA Champion, winning the NBA Title, along with teammate Shaquille O’Neal, three times in succession between 2000-2003.
He’s also reached the lowest depths during his career, when he was accused of sexual assault against a hotel employee in Colorado. The case was eventually settled out of court. Some still believe Kobe to be guilty of the charges, feeling he bought his way out of trouble, while his many fans look upon it as a case of extortion and greed on the part of the girl.
No one but Kobe and the girl know for sure, but thankfully this sad period in Kobe’s life seems to have passed. However, it has left its scars on Kobe, his fans, and more importantly, his family.
During his troubles, Kobe must have at times felt like it was him against the world.
Although the court case was dismissed, Kobe had to face up to his mistakes with both the media, and his family. His wife, Vanessa, is shown here giving her support during his initial news conference.
Although many derided her for standing by her man, many believe it showed a strength beyond measure. She loves her husband, and that love will not falter. Far too many swear the marriage vows and forget the part, "in good times and bad".
With the trouble seemingly firmly behind him, Kobe and his family seem happier than ever together.
Kobe's wife, Vanessa, seems to have forgiven him, and all is right with the world in Laker Land because of it. Have to say, she's the image of a goddess.
From the moment he entered the NBA, Kobe has been compared to Michael Jordan. Whether this is a fair comparison or not is up to the person comparing them. My take on it is, Mike was Mike; there'll never be another. Kobe is Kobe; and that's anything but second rate.
Some of the comparisons to Michael have been made in fun, with a lighthearted sense to them, as shown in the photo above.
Many Chicago fans, while they would never favorably compare Kobe to Michael, would love nothing better than to have him wear the same uniform Jordan once donned during his illustrious career in the Windy City.
There are many Kobe-haters who think comparing Kobe to Jordan isn't just wrong, but an unpardonable sin - BLASPHEMY.
There was a time when it was thought Kobe and Shaq were the perfect teammates. Nothing seemed to be able to stop them, and nothing seemed to be able to get between them.
That all went wrong during the 2004 season, and by its end, the relationship had turned into something altogether more dark and venomous, with both players trading barbs in the media before and after Shaq was traded away.
Once O'Neal was traded to the Heat, the rivalry between these two teams grew. Mainly fueled by the media, it still had significance as Kobe and Shaq continued to trade nasty remarks.
There did seem to be a chilling of the tensions in the famous fist bump game, but the two have never been real friends since.
With the All-Star Game resulting in Co-MVP honors for Shaq and Kobe in Phoenix, many have begun to wonder if the duo could reunite. There did seem to be considerably less tension between the two, and in fact a modicum of friendship.
As Shaq referred to them as "The Big Legendaries" it seemed all has been forgiven.
Not yet having attained another ring, Kobe has had success in the Olympics.
As the American National Anthem is played during the Gold Medal Awards ceremony, Kobe's pride in his country and his accomplishments for it are etched in every curve of his smile.
Seen with his Olympic teammates, Kobe is Golden once again, showing pride in his team's Gold Medal win.
Kobe has now reached worldwide fame, and is a cultural icon all over the globe.
Seen here during the Olympics, it's obvious the world loves Kobe.
Even with the status of a cultural icon, Kobe always finds time for charitable events, giving to his community and others, especially children.
His fans certainly love him, always wanting a photo-op with their favorite player.
Kobe always has time to help out at events hosted by the United Way, one of the many charities the NBA has ties with.
Nothing brings a smile more easily to Kobe's face than helping out a kid. Here he's seen lending a hand during the NBA's community work during the just passed All-Star Weekend.
Kobe's game, whatever his detracters say, is top-notch. Here he's seen defending the feisty and quick Steve Nash, a two-time MVP.
Kobe has no problem defending quicker guards, as is shown in this photo, as he puts the clamps on "Flash".
Kobe has no problems defending larger guard-forwards either, as seen in this photo of his blanketing Vince "Half-Man, Half-Amazin'" Carter.
Kobe's latest challenge, has been to defend the NBA's newest Beast of the East, King James. And while no one seems to be able to defend LeBron for any stretch, Kobe has done an admirable job when put on him.
Kobe is also often called upon to defend men far taller than he is, as this photo of him shutting down 7-Footer Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks shows.
There are even times when Kobe must defend the opposing team's center, as this photo of him harrassing the San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan shows.
Kobe is also a great help defender, as this photo of he and his teammates Rony Turiaf and Sasha Vujacic stopping the drive of San Antonio's Tony Parker shows.
Kobe is known for his defensive prowess, but it's his offensive skills that have made him legendary. Kobe possesses an all-around game not many others can match. He's able to post up at will, as shown here.
Kobe's able to slice through defenders...
...he's able to drive to the hoop...
...and slam the ball when he gets there...
...but his greatest ability is his exceptional outside shot, which he can stroke from nearly anywhere on the court. This shot has made him one of the most feared players in the NBA, and garnered him numerous accolades and awards.
One of those awards was the 2007-2008 NBA Regular Season MVP. One of the highlights of his career was scoring 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors, the single highest scoring output since Wilt Chamberlain's record 100-point game.
Kobe's many moves and dunks have been immortalized on posters throughout the world, including this multiple-exposure poster of a fantastic dunk he laid down.
Another poster of his many scintillating moves, was another multiple-exposure poster of a reverse-layup dunk he was able to do.
Some of the most sought after posters, are ones showing Kobe dunking over an opponent, like this one showing Kobe slamming it in the face of Dwight Howard.
Of course, some of Kobe's most popular posters simply show him soaring through the air.
Kobe's exploits on the court have let him have his choice when it comes to shoes being named after him. This pair was extremely popular.
Kobe's latest shoe, the Nike Zoom IV lowtop, is quickly gaining fans.
Kobe even has his own logo.
Despite all these other things, such as shoes, awards, statistical triumphs, and even a logo, Kobe knows what it's all about - the game. He's tasted the sweet fruit of success, and the bitter bite of defeat, but through it all...
...he's directed his current Lakers team to the best record in the NBA this year...
...silencing his critics.
And whether he gets another ring this year or not, he's confident in himself and his teammates, ensuring that fans will enjoy more moments of joy throughout the year.
And they will enjoy his play, for while they know...
...Kobe's just a man, they look upon him as their...