It’s one week later, but students at Humber College are still mourning the tragic death of basketball giant Kobe Bryant. Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna and seven other people, died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, in California. The news crippled the sports world.
Skedline asked students at Humber College to retell their favourite moments from Bryant’s career.
A recurring memory of basketball fans in Canada was Bryant’s 61-point game against the Raptors in 2016. Austin McGraw told Skedline that was a game that he’d never forget. “That game was terrible to watch for me,” McGraw said. “The Raptors weren’t a great team. In hindsight, I’m glad I got to watch it.”
Bernard Maguire said that he was awestruck by Kobe’s performance that night. “It was impressive,” Maguire said. “My thought was, ‘How’d he do this? This is insane.’ That was Kobe for you.”
Teams across the NBA paid tribute to Bryant throughout the week. The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs collaborated on a touching tribute to Kobe Bryant at the beginning of their game last Sunday, with each team dribbling out the 24-second shot clock in remembrance of the No. 24 worn by the retired NBA great.
Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young wore the number 8 to honour the Lakers legend and recorded an 8-second violation at the start of last Sunday’s game against the Washington Wizards.
Byrant’s former teammate Shaquille O’Neal spoke about the emotions he was feeling after hearing the news of Bryant’s death on TNT’s “Tribute to Kobe Bryant” show. “I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while,” O’Neal said.
When asked what his favourite Kobe Bryant moment, O’Neal said:
Another Humber student reminisced about the dynamic duo and the championships they played for the Lakers.
Sandeep Ka told Skedline: “I always remember those years,” said Ka. “Kobe and ‘Shaq’ would crush almost every team they played. They were such a dynamic duo and fun to watch. The ‘3peat’ where the Lakers won the NBA Championship three times in a row was something to behold.”
Inspired by Bryant’s well-known jump shot, Etobicoke resident Chris Haigh remembered yelling “Kobe” every time fired a piece of garbage into the trash can. “I think I said it a million times,” “I tried to sink every shot. I didn’t sink them all, but I damn near tried.”
Cody Schmeiser, a devoted fan of Bryant’s, remembers attending his final home game in Los Angeles. “It was an emotional rollercoaster,” Schmeiser said. “It was a tough pill to swallow when Bryant was doing his retirment tour. When it was his last game in LA, I knew I wanted to go. I don’t regret it, especially now. It was a bittersweet night, but a fun game to watch. Kobe played great.”
Dwayne Maisonneuve, who describes himself as a casual basketball fan, said that his favourite moment happened at the Olympics in 2008. “Kobe would hit a three-pointer and do this shish thing finger on the lips. It was kind of like that ‘no, no, no’ finger wave that Dikembe Mutombo would do,” Maisonneuve said. “I think that was classic Kobe. I always sort of liked his cocky side. It’s what made him the player he was.”
Terrence Oates said he enjoyed Kobe’s fifth title run with the Lakers in the 2009-2010 season. “Throughout the season, the Lakers seemed like they were on a mission,” Oates said. “Then the playoffs came and Kobe came alive, especially against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. It was so fun to watch.”
Randy Tagoe told Skedline that he would never forget the Western Conference Finals matchup between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers. “What a series that was for Kobe,” Tagoe said. “He was just getting into his prime and dang, he played great. He’s one of the greats in this game and thanks to a series like this, Kobe Bryant will never be forgotten. Not in 10 years. Not forever. What a series.”