Mamba's Muses / by Alex Young

We were preparing the whole year for 'Mamba Day', Kobe Bryant's last game of his NBA career. Only dawning the Laker purple and gold for twenty years, Bryant added to the dynasty while forging a legendary path of his own--five titles, eighteen all-star appearances and the highest scoring guard in NBA history.

Kids my age know about Kobe.  I was in kindergarten when he helped push Shaq over the top and reignited the Lakers dynasty of old.  I didn't get to witness all of those Jordan moments, but I saw the Mamba ascend to the mountain top, this time on his own, in 2009 and 2010, and I watched him ride out into the sunset with 60 points on 50 shots.  I grew up with him.  Kobe was the first basketball GOAT I watched.

The game is going to miss Kobe Bryant even though it's about damn time that he left.  Despite the start of the NBA playoffs, the Black Mamba's exit has remained a topic of interest for sports reporters.  The interviews of old friends speaking on his high school days at Lower Merion and the oral history of the boy from Philadelphia's epic saga reveal just how much basketball meant to Kobe Bryant.  

It's true that you don't truly know what you have until it's gone.  As Kobe's illustrious career unfolded before our eyes, we weren't aware of the full extent this man went to prepare, practice and dominate his craft.  Over a decade after Michael Jordan's final game, basketball-heads are still learning larger-than-life factoids and anecdotes of his Airness.  This past week has welcomed many former teammates, opponents and coaches of Bryant to reminisce on the more private subtext of his playing days.

Take some time to get a fuller scope of the enigmatic Kobe Bryant with these riveting articles and visuals.

"I remember sitting in the locker room at halftime and saying to myself, 'You know what, you may lose everything in life because of the situation that you put yourself in,'" Kobe recalls.

"'You may lose your family, your freedom, but I'll be damned if I lose basketball. Because this shit I can control.' - Mamba Out by Ramona Shelbourne

  Photographs  by Andy Bernstein chronicle his final night

Photographs by Andy Bernstein chronicle his final night