Kobe Bryant's first game was on 3 November 1996 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Straight out of high school and at just 18-years old, the T-Wolves would be a perfect place to begin as they were led by the 20-year-old Kevin Garnett, who was entering his second year in the league. Kobe's first start would come in January, against the pre-Dirk Nowitzki Dallas Mavericks. Bryant, Garnett, Nowitzki, Iverson, Duncan, and Nash would lead the late-'90s generation of superstars.
Kobe's rivals were many and he never shied away from any match-up. He would relish the chance to take on his idol, Michael Jordan. He had no problem taking on the younger generation when Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry stood in his way. As arguably one of the greatest 1-on-1 players of all time, Bryant would take it upon himself to shut down the opposing team's best player and out score them. A notoriously vicious competitor and trash talker, Bryant was bilingual, and would come at you in your own language just to gain an edge.
We lost Kobe Bryant on 26 January 2020, on one of the saddest days in sports history. Bryant was a pure force of determination and effort. He will be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. A player with Mamba-mentality is not one to be mourned - no: we're here to celebrate Bryant's career.
If Wilt Chamberlain is putting together a pick-up game, he just found his shooting guard.