Wed | Feb 19, 2020

JABA president hails Bryant as standard bearer

Published:Monday | January 27, 2020 | 12:33 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer

Jamaican Basketball Association (JABA) president Paulton Gordon says that the death of NBA legend Kobe Byrant was a loss not only for basketball but for the entire sporting community.

The five time NBA champion and double Olympic gold medallist died with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash yesterday afternoon in Southern California, sending the sporting world into mourning for the 41-year-old. Gordon, in paying tribute, said Bryant was the reason that many local fans fell in love with the sport, because of his fierce competitiveness and his winning mentality.

“A lot of persons, when we started to watch basketball after the Michael Jordan era, Kobe Byrant was the one that took up the mantle,” Gordon told The Gleaner. “So he has scores of followers in Jamaica because of his winning mentality, his style of play, and his approach to the game. So he has created a throng of basketball supporters in Jamaica itself.”

Gordon said that Bryant, who spent his entire professional career with the Los Angeles (LA) Lakers, was the last of a generation of players that played with one franchise, which Gordon says displayed the ability to perform continuously at a high level over his 20-year career.

“If you notice nowadays, all of the superstars, within two or three years they are elsewhere,” Gordon said. “He played all 20 years at LA. So that level of consistency, that level of commitment to a particular cause is not seen in recent times. So clearly we have lost someone who has carried the flag for basketball and has helped to spread the sport,” he said.

Bryant’s final tweet congratulated LeBron James on becoming the third highest scorer of all time in the NBA, passing his mark of 33,643 points in the Lakers 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. Gordon says that Bryant leaves a standard that will fall on others to emulate.

“He has laid down some standards. The players who are coming subsequently have something to look forward to,” he said.