The true legacy of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Frederic Stevens/Getty Images) /

3. Worldwide Respect

We got our first glimpse of Kobe’s renown outside America during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In China, the most populous country on our planet, more than four times the size of the USA, Bryant was universally saluted to a degree that flabbergasted observers. He is widely regarded as the most popular foreign athlete in Chinese history.

News of his passing was also the headline story throughout most of Europe. In Italy, where he lived as a young boy, his death was regarded as a national tragedy.

To so many young NBA players, Kobe was their icon growing up. His passion inspired other athletes as he demonstrated what it took to be a champion. Many were too upset to speak publicly without tears flowing down their faces.

His peers likewise showed him tremendous respect, even from a bitter rival like Dwyane Wade, who called Bryant’s death one of the worse days of his life. And players of an older generation chimed in, including former Lakers Magic Johnson and James Worthy as well as Kobe’s own idol, Michael Jordan, and a hero of a previous generation, Bill Russell.

Tributes were given in arenas throughout the league. Los Angeles fans were of course deeply saddened, but so were people in cities all across the USA. The somewhat surprising and perhaps unprecedented universal adulation was echoed resoundingly everywhere you turned.