Kobe Bryant, the ultimate perimeter player, signs off

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Kobe Bryant played the last game of his 20-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers amid much fanfare on Wednesday, April 13. Bryant dazzled fans, scoring 60 points as the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz in the season finale, capping a farewell tour for Bryant that started once he made it clear he was retiring at the end of this season.

"Penny" Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan's departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

“Penny” Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan’s departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

While not accurate, it is often said that Michael Jordan passed the proverbial torch to Bryant.

The similarities between Bryant and Jordan are easy to see. Both are similar in height, position played, disposition on the court, and team success.

However, many forget that there were two superstars who were poised to follow in Jordan’s footsteps but suffered career altering injuries: Anfernee (Penny) Hardaway, and Grant Hill. Both superstars were similar to Bryant early in their careers because they had charisma, exciting talent and marketing appeal.

On the strength of two championships at Duke university, Hill emerged quickly as a superstar leading all NBA All-Star Game players in fan voting in his rookie season and soon afterwards leading the Detroit Pistons to multiple playoff appearances. Hill was a dynamic player with excellent scoring and play-making ability.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

Hardaway also had quick success, helping to lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 with Shaquille O’neal. Hardaway and Hill had huge endorsement deals and were well positioned to be pre-eminent perimeter players in the NBA upon Jordan’s second retirement in 1999.

Other perimeter player contemporaries of Bryant who entered the NBA during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s include Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen.

All of these players helped lead their teams in different ways, while displaying entertaining and captivating styles of play. All of these players were also major faces in advertising, which assisted in bringing extra attention to the NBA internationally.

(I - r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

(I – r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

Bryant might have the highest international profile of all of the previous mentioned players, except Jordan, and his battles with those players helped pave the way for the current wave of perimeter All Stars. Bryant’s 20 year career has allowed him to compete with players already in the basketball Hall of Fame as well as number of players likely to land there as well.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James headline a long list of perimeter players that have carried the torch of exciting the fans and helping fans fill the impending the void created upon Bryant’s retirement.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

As Bryant retires, perimeter play is on the uptick in the NBA. The last several regular season and NBA Finals MVP have been perimeter players. Bryant reminded all spectators that current NBA fans enjoy seeing their perimeter stars score in bundles as he scored the most points by a player this season in his final game. A great ending to an even greater career.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Veteran’s Day holds a special place in the annals of NBA history for centers

(l - r) Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing all reached NBA milestones on November 11.

(l – r) Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing all reached NBA milestones on November 11.

By Charles Glover, Jr

On November 11, when Veteran’s Day is celebrated, three of the NBA’s best centers reached noticeable milestones. Shaquille O’Neal, Patrick Ewing, and Hakeem Olajuwon all had key accomplishments on that date in NBA history.

Shaquille O'Neal had a good start to his NBA career with a victory and a double-double.

Shaquille O’Neal had a good start to his NBA career with a victory and a double-double.

In 1992 on November 11, Shaquille O’Neal made his NBA debut for the Orlando Magic. In what would become an eventual Hall of Fame career, O’Neal would score 12 points to go along with 18 rebounds and three blocks in his first NBA action. The upstart Magic would go on to defeat the Miami Heat 110 to 100.

Hakeem Olajuwon was at the top of his game in 1995 when he reached a career milestone.

Hakeem Olajuwon was at the top of his game in 1995 when he reached a career milestone.

In 1995, Hakeem Olajuwon with help the Houston Rockets defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 119 297. Olajuwon what’s scored 21 points in the game, making him the ninth player in NBA history to score 20,000 points and have 10,000 rebounds in an NBA career.

Patrick Ewing was doing his best to keep the Knicks as a title contender when he reached his career milestone in 1996.

Patrick Ewing was doing his best to keep the Knicks as a title contender when he reached his career milestone in 1996.

In 1996, Patrick Ewing would help leave the New York Knicks to a 92 288 victory over the Orlando Magic. Patrick Ewing which score 24 points in that game. He would become the 23rd player in NBA history to score over 20,000 points in an NBA career in that game.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr is a sports aficionado and a management and employee consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com. For business inquiries contact (646) 309-1938.