"The fact that I'm talked about in company with 'Magic' (Earvin Johnson) and 'Cap' (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), I've made it," Kobe Bryant responded to the question of his Los Angeles Lakers' legacy during his retirement press conference on Sunday night at Staples Center. "That's enough for me."
Bryant added with emotion and exuberance, "I was a Laker die hard growing up. That's good enough for me. I've just been extremely fortunate. How many kids can say growing up that you turn pro, you're going to play for your favorite team in the world and spend your entire career there?"
No, that's not a bad career, then, is it?
An entirely content 37-year-old man added in a believable tone, "It's been a dream."
At his peak, Bryant often pulled the stuff of dreams and brought them to reality. He was the greatest scorer since Wilt Chamberlain, and months like April of 2007 serve as reminders of that fact. To conclude that month, Bryant scored over 50 points five times over a seven-game span, and one of the sub-50-point games featured the scoring machine pouring in a lowly 43 points in a win over Golden State. Also, two of the 50-point games were actually 60-point games, which only further helped underscore how time does not dull the greatness of Bryant's achievements.
In a completely different season, Bryant outscored the Dallas Mavericks 62-61 through three quarters before taking a seat for the final 12 minutes. Also, he scored 81 points in a game. However, as much as Bryant will be showered with love and respect from the pantheon of great NBA players, he will ultimately go down as a Laker above everything else.
Becoming the first NBA player to play 20 seasons with one team defines Bryant's career as much as any of his scores of records he possesses. Winning five titles with his favorite team and automatically earning, at the least, a mention next to Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson and also Jerry West in the conversation for greatest Laker of all time is "good enough."
No, actually, that sounds great.