A few things will pretty much universally always stand out about the legacy of the late Lakers star Kobe Bryant, with his unparalleled work ethic and will to win likely to be chief among them.
But for Pau Gasol, who won two titles with Bryant and formed a unique brotherhood with him over their nearly seven years playing together, it wasn’t just Bryant’s dedication to improving himself and winning at all costs that stood out.
In a recent interview, he told Omar Raja of ESPN what he wants people to remember most about his friend and former teammate:
“He gave it all. He gave it all. And he transcended sports and basketball... Kobe, the impact that he had on basketball, what he was doing for women’s basketball and sports, and how he was supporting it, and being just a great spokesperson for women’s sports and basketball supporting his daughters, that’s something that speaks very highly of him. How passionate, competitive and committed he was.
“And when the basketball career ended, there he was, creating content through his books, through his short film, sharing stories that could benefit the next generation. How he created the Mamba Sports Academy to inspire other athletes and create an environment for them to develop, applying the Mamba Mentality. Again, women’s basketball and how he supported it. How he created businesses with Body Armor, he was very successful with it.
“He also created a fund, I don’t know if many people know, but he was trying to help players be more financially stable and educate them through a private equity fund. So again, his legacy is tremendous, so inspiring in so many ways, and I think people that know him best and closest, we should honor him and carry on his legacy as much and as long as we can.”
Gasol is certainly right about that last part, and it’s already in progress for many.
In one example, the WNBA recently created the “Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award” to honor Bryant and his late daughter, Gianna, recognizing their impact on and support of the women’s game.
That surely is far from the only way Bryant’s impact of the game of basketball and the worlds surrounding it will be felt far after his passing, and Gasol is right that all of those facets of Bryant’s personality should be appreciated and honored, even as the world continues to grieve this tragic loss.