Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Kobe a superb reference point for Ja – Nattie

Published:Monday | January 27, 2020 | 12:24 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
In this December 2001, file photo Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant jumps over a row of fans after saving the ball from going out of bounds in the second half of the Lakers 107-101 win over the Houston Rockets in Houston.
In this December 2001, file photo Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant jumps over a row of fans after saving the ball from going out of bounds in the second half of the Lakers 107-101 win over the Houston Rockets in Houston.

Former president of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA) Marland Nattie said the passing of former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, is ‘a sad moment in basketball history”. Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other unidentified persons died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, yesterday. They were 41 and 13 years old, respectively.

Nattie, who led JABA from 1997-2008, said the five, time NBA champion had a special place in the hearts of Jamaican basketball fans because he was not only a winner, but one of the biggest crowd pullers and crowd pleasers to grace the game.

“Kobe was one of the stars that most of the youngsters idolised,” Nattie told The Gleaner. Jamaicans as a whole watch more NBA basketball than local basketball. So I am sure all the basketball fans in Jamaica are really saddened at the passing of this man.”

However, Nattie, who was also a coach, said Bryant was more than just a flamboyant player as he was a great source of reference for coaches and an inspiration to young players.

“He was a tremendous player who brought a lot to the game, and it’s unfortunate to see it end this way,” Nattie said. “As a coach, you try to use him in terms of videos, his offensive game, his tenacity and never say die attitude augurs well when you have somebody like that to reflect on and have players look on. So for the fans, he was tremendous. For coaches he was great, as well as for players.

“He came in the era of [Michael] Jordon, [Earvin] ‘Magic’ Johnson, and all those top players, and he was awesome to watch. Jamaicans love flair, and that’s why we love Jordan and Kobe, and these players that bring flair and excitement to the game. But just for the basic basketball fan, he was just a fantastic player. It is really a sad moment in basketball history,” he said.

Bryant entered the NBA directly from high school and played his entire 20-year career in the NBA for the Lakers. He was an 18-time All-Star and 15-time member of the All-NBA team. He was also the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2008. He is also regarded by many as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com