Stephen A. Smith delivers powerful monologue on Kobe Bryant

Stephen A. Smith says two setbacks made Kobe Bryant one of the NBA’s finest players (ESPN/Getty)

Stephen A. Smith believes two setbacks in Kobe Bryant’s career led him on the path to become one of the finest players in NBA history.

The ESPN host paid tribute to Bryant on SportsCenter with a powerful monologue about the 41-year-old’s desire for success with the LA Lakers.

And Smith has pinpointed the Lakers’ defeat to the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 and a loss against the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals in 2008 as two pivotal points in Bryant’s life.

‘There are two moments that’ll be linked to Kobe Bryant, miserable, unforgettable moments that for the wise amongst us, who are truly interested in what actually makes greatness, crystallize who the Black Mamba was and what we should remember most about him,’ Smith said on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

‘One moment was May 15, 2003. Game 6 of the Western Conference semi-finals that ended the Lakers’ season with a 28-point lost to the San Antonio Spurs.

‘The other was June 17, 2008. Five season later. A season that which Bryant has played all 82 regular season games in pursuit of a title, only to come up short in Game 6 in the NBA Finals courtesy of a 39-point romp at the hands of Doc Rivers’ Boston Celtics.

‘On those two infamous days in the life of Kobe Bryant’s basketball life he cried, swamped by devastation, he cried profusely in a way visually similar Doc Rivers cried just the other day after learning that Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident.

‘Bryant cried because he lost. He cried because, momentarily, he cared so much about winning, about accomplishing the ultimate goal that falling short felt, well, fatal to him.

Kobe Bryant was upset after the Boston Celtics won the championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in 2008 (Getty Images)

‘And it’s because of those raw emotions, his fixations on success that the basketball world loved him back.

‘Because of all the things every critic would accuse Bryant of, cheating the game and its fans definitely was never one of them.

‘And the basketball world of load management, exorbitant salaries, breathing a world of comfort and entitlement, you could bet your check that such notions were never applicable to Kobe Bryant.

‘He embraced being the marquee. He salivated being the ‘supposed’ hunted. Annihilation was always his objective. Mercy was never in his vocabulary.

Kobe Bryant was in tears after Game 6 after losing the NBA Western Conference semi-final against the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 (AFP via Getty Images)

‘But we also learned that you can be rich beyond measure, highly successful and accomplished, yet still hungry, still starving.

‘We learned that it was possible to give and give and give, yet still feel like it’s you who owes so many so much more.

‘So we can get ourselves set to say goodbye to the Black Mamba. Thankful for all the moments he’s given us throughout the years.

‘Just remember, to him, he still needed to give more. He believed that’s what made true stars and it’s why he was arguably the brightest star of them all.’


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