The 1996 draft class is one of the most talented classes in NBA history. Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash were the three best players out of it, and they had some of the best on-court battles during the 2000s.
But once they retired and were off the court, only Kobe stood out. During his appearance on JJ Redick’s podcast, Nash spoke about how Kobe handled retirement so gracefully.
“I was impressed as much of anything about how Kobe was handling retirement,” Nash said. “He obviously won an academy award. He was an incredible father, advocate for young players, and especially the WNBA players.
“So for him to kinda move so fluidly into retirement, at least from a distance, I was incredibly impressed. Not something when you know how competitive he is, that would you definitely thought, he’s gonna transition easy. I really admired him for the way he appeared to be transitioning and (his death) is just a great tragedy and loss.”
Kobe Bryant: Legend both on and off the court
During his playing days, Kobe was always one of the best. He won five rings, one MVP, had multiple awards, and set the court on fire every time he stepped on the hardwood. So he left the NBA as one of the greatest players to play in the league.
But even after he retired, he was still doing so much. He became the first NBA player to win an Academy Award when ‘Dear Basketball’ won the honor for the Best Animated Short film back in 2018.
The WNBA doesn’t garner the same support as the NBA, but Kobe was always one of their loudest supporters. Many star players have spoken about his impact on the league. And on a personal level, he worked with Sabrina Ionescu, the 2020 #1 pick, and was her close friend too. He was also a huge family man and always came to Lakers games with his daughter.
It has been almost nine months since his death, but it is still a hard pill to swallow. His impact on fans across the world, not just with his on-court heroics but off-court too, is why he will be remembered as one of the best players of all-time.