Today is a sad day for many basketball fans as Kobe Bryant announces his retirement at the end of this season. Kobe is one of the most polarising players of all time, some love him and some hate him but he will go down as one of the greatest competitors the game has ever seen.
Every person going to the Lakers vs Indiana game received a poem written by Kobe that said:
From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:
I fell in love with you.
A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.
As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.
And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.
I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.
You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.
And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.
And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1
Love you always,
Kobe’s retirement announcement that’s being distributed to fans at the door tonight: pic.twitter.com/JQbqwRXdj5
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 30, 2015
I want to pay tribute to Kobe by sharing some of my favourite Kobe moments as well as things all players can learn from him in regards to shooting the ball. I have been critical of Kobe in the past and I have always preferred players with more humility like Tim Duncan, but you cannot deny Kobe’s greatness.
The first moment I want to share is this one here:
I was 17 years old when the 1999/2000 season started and just before Christmas I travelled to LA and was lucky enough to watch the Lakers play the Blazers in a regular season game (I was a huge Scottie Pippen fan at the time). It was amazing to watch Kobe and Shaq in action when both were in their absolute prime.
Here is the next moment I want to share:
Kobe Bryan is the closest thing we have ever seen in comparison to Michael Jordan. Both players were hard on their teammates, pushed themselves to extreme heights, played the game with similar intensity and passion and looked very similar when playing!
The last moment I have to share is when Kobe dropped 81 on the Raptors! I think that night still gives Jalen Rose night mares on a regular basis.
That was arguably the single best performance ever in a game. I know Wilt scored 100 but to score 81 in the modern game is pretty amazing and ranks right up there!
Kobe was always known as a scorer, but he also had some pretty decent shooting mechanics and there are a few particular things that all young players could look to incorporate into their shooting mechanics.
Just like Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant is an index shooter. That means when he shoots he puts his index finger down (pinching his index finger and thumb), while keeping the other three fingers up.
He has copied that straight move from MJ. And the great ones always copy from the great ones before them (like KD copying the Dirk Nowitzki Fadeaway).
The index finger shooting is a great strategy, as putting your index finger in the middle of the basket on your release will generally help you keep your shot straight.
And just like MJ, Kobe is also a sway shooter. That means his legs sway out on his jump shots.
Not everyone is going to have the same lift as Kobe on their jump shots, but by swaying a little your shoulders will naturally go backwards helping you be a bit more relaxed and adding rhythm/range to you shot. A lot of players who simply jump straight up and down are actually quite stiff in their shooting mechanics and a lot of the best shooters in the NBA sway (KD, Melo etc.).
The last aspect that I really like about Kobe’s shooting mechanics is that he is a turn shooter and has the same turn on his jump shots and free-throws. I teach the turn as it gives you much better alignment. Having your feet staggered is a good start, but by turning slightly you will make sure that your shooting arm is more on your shot line, which will help you shoot straight.
So there you have it! Some of my favourite Kobe moment as well as some take aways from Kobe’s shooting technique. The next few months will be one big farewell tour and you expect to see many standing ovations all over the country when the Kobe show hits town. I really hope that he can regain some kind of rhythm and finish this year in the style that he deserves.