Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour comes to an end on Wednesday night when he will play the final game of a storied, 20-year NBA career.
Along the way, players, coaches, and athletes have spoken out about Kobe’s career and importance, showing the overall impact he’s had on the NBA.
One former player who can attest to that is current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, who not only played Kobe and the Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals, but was also on the wrong end of Kobe’s 81-point explosion.
“I’m like everybody else: I’m just celebrating the end of an era,” Rose said of Kobe’s retirement in a phone interview with Business Insider.
Rose indeed believes it is the end of an era, as Kobe’s retirement officially passes the torch to the next generation of superstars.
“Is he last greatest superstar that came truly before the social media, before LeBron [James], before [Dwyane] Wade, and was just consumed with basketball?” Rose pondered. “Like, Kobe was obsessed with the game of basketball.”
Rose explained that when Kobe scored 81 points, it wasn’t the final stat line that was most impressive, but the way he did it.
“The day he scored 81 points — people are gonna look at the box score, but if you look at his greatest plays in his history, none of the plays from that game are gonna be on there. What made that game great is the zone he was in, the discipline he continued to exude, the stamina, consistency that he had. And he never talked trash, he never pumped his chest, he never got out of character. He was like a man amongst boys.
“I would say a lot more young players could be that way,” Rose continued. “Because we do live in an era where you’re down three touchdowns with a minute to go in the game, and you’re doing a touchdown celebration.”
Rose humorously found a comparison to Kobe’s demeanour and work ethic, saying he approaches his work like Dr. Dre and Eminem.
“Where are they? They’re billionaires, they have radio stations, they have movies, they have all these things, but you never see them. They’re so in love with their craft.”
Kobe’s retirement also cements the end of an era to Rose because the game changed around Kobe. He explained that when Kobe hit his prime, there was more isolation basketball and more players taking 20 shots per game and scoring 20 points per game.
“Now the game is more pace-and-space, five-man basketball,” Rose said. “It’s an era of resting healthy players; he missed that era.”
Rose, however, is not sad about Kobe leaving the NBA — it’s part of a natural progression he’s seen before.
“It’s just like when [Michael Jordan] left,” Rose said. “A lot of people were wondering what was gonna happen with the league and if he was gonna leave it in good hands. Well, he did it with Tim Duncan, Kobe, Shaq, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James. And now you see a new era being ushered by Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis.”