Philadelphia 76ers should honor Kobe Bryant’s roots

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers should honor a legendary native.

Many NBA fans have spent the past two days in constant, unshakable shock. Some have been moved to tears, others to the basketball court. Millions around the country and around the globe have honored, grieved, and paid respects to Kobe Bryant.

I’m a youngster, so Kobe’s sudden death hit me in a particular way. Other all-time greats have passed, all of which spark some feeling of sadness. But Kobe Bryant is someone I grew up watching. I spent my elementary and middle school years yelling ‘Kobe’ when I shot paper into trashcans — it’s not a tired cliche, but a generational phenomenon.

Kobe, more than anyone in the past two decades, had a profound effect on how a new generation of players approach the game. Look at Trae Young, Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, and others in my age range who were devastated by the news. A lot of folks my age were hooked on the Mamba Mentality.

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  • One cannot properly discuss Kobe without discussing his flaws. There are lines his ‘Mamba Mentality’ would sometimes cross, and no one should paint Bryant as a perfect individual. He did bad things, and no death warrants the erasure of one’s past.

    Instead, fans should celebrate Kobe for what he truly was — a flawed but brilliant individual, one who inspired a generation of fans, and one who made a genuine effort to correct his sins and grow as a person.

    In his post-basketball life, Bryant was a leading advocate for women’s basketball. He shined as a father figure, and his artistic endeavors were just getting started. There is an undeniable mythology to Kobe, and a well deserved one. Regardless of how you view Kobe’s accomplishments in relation to other all-time greats, few have had the profound impact on basketball culture that Bryant did.

    With regard to the Philadelphia 76ers, much has been said about how the organization can honor Bryant’s contributions to the game. Some have vouched for all 30 NBA teams to retire Bryant’s No. 24. In Philadelphia’s case, with 24 already retired, we have made a case for sending No. 8 to the rafters instead.

    I’m not such how practical a mass retirement of Kobe’s number(s) truly is. The Dallas Mavericks have already decided to retire 24, and I’m sure other teams will follow. All 30 vowing to never wear 24 again, however, would break precedent.

    Most cities lack a meaningful connection to Kobe beyond his ability to demolish their respective teams. That’s not the case for Philadelphia, his hometown and a city very much ingrained in Bryant’s DNA. People will forever identify Bryant as a Laker, a product of L.A., and for good reason. Even so, it’s difficult to construct a more apt picture of Philadelphia sports.

    Bryant embodied all the attributes Philly fans hold near and dear. He was a relentless worker, a stone-cold killer, and a noted grinder. The stories of him getting up at 6 AM to work out are peak Philly. His constant competitive edge — his desire to obliterate each and every opponent — is in line with Philadelphia’s reputation as a sports city.

    Kobe entered the 1996 NBA Draft straight out of Lower Merion High School, a mere 30 minutes north of the Wells Fargo Center. It’s not difficult to find pictures of Bryant in Eagles gear, cheering on his hometown squad. He is quintessentially Philly, even if his legend is rooted in L.A.

    This was a comment under one of our Twitter posts, and frankly, it deserves a special shout out. The City of Brotherly Love has a genuine connection to Kobe, one no other city can claim. The Sixers are ambassadors for the city, and therefore the argument can be made. The Sixers should send Bryant’s No. 33, which he wore at Lower Merion, to the rafters.

    If you’re so inclined, you can read our other Kobe stories here at the site — why, in one writer’s opinion, the Sixers should retire No. 8, as well as a look back at Bryant’s legacy in Philadelphia.

    Next. Sixers' 15 greatest playoff moments. dark

    Rest in peace, Mamba.