Were you Michael? No.
Did you need Shaq to capture those two extra rings? No.
Did you have enough help on your team in the last few years? No.
But did you ever give up? Absolutely not.
I used to be a LeBron James fan. I could not do it, though. I saw how he dwindled under the bright lights in crunch time. His 2-4 record in the Finals just does not sit well with me. Although it was not always his fault, I knew he could not do what you did.
Mind you, I think you would have lost in the series against the Warriors, too. But you would not have gone out that way. You would have shot the ball 40 times and not let your team fall by the wayside.
Your spirit and will to win is something that motivates me every day.
You kept lacing up your sneakers, even when you were counted out. Even when you went down with a torn Achilles, a knee injury or a torn labrum, you never counted yourself out. I learned to never make excuses. I never told myself that I could not do something.
You actually told Michael Jordan that you would beat him to his face.
I have never seen anyone play the game with more grace, enthusiasm, brash or arrogance like you. They say you play just like Mike, but I think you play like yourself.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
I’m will miss watching you jack up a bunch of ill-advised jump shots when you have three teammates open.
I’m going to miss you always thinking that you do not have enough help.
I’m going to miss you showing up your own teammates because you think you are better than all of them.
I’m going to miss you sticking up for the most random things.
I’m going to miss it all.
You’re not the greatest ever. In my opinion, it would be hard to put you in a top-10 of the all-time greatest players in the NBA.
You are in a class of your own. You are Kobe “Bean” Bryant.