Continuing the coverage of Kobe Bryant’s retirement and its effect on the league, Trail Blazers Beat Writer Casey Holdahl gets several of Portland’s players to speak on their experience with Bryant and their reaction to Sunday’s big news. The following quotes are excerpts from each player’s response. To read each statement in full, check out Holdahl’s full article here, on ForwardCenter.net.
"He’s definitely going down as one of the greatest. Everybody here grew up watching Kobe. I’ve played with a lot of guys who try to patent their game after him. It’s history, it’s good news and I’m happy for him. I hope he finishes the year out strong and goes out the way he wants to go out."
"Kobe is obviously a special player. Michael Jordan was my favorite player when I was real, real young. As Michael left, it was all Kobe. He and Tracy McGrady were the two two guards that I really look at a lot. When I was in high school and college, he was a guy I looked up to a lot."
"Kobe is a legend. Most of us in the game now grew up watching him. He was our Michael (Jordan). I never really got to see Michael play live, but when I was a kid, seeing Kobe play, I remember just watching all the Lakers playoff games with my grandma. It was crazy. He’s still so talented and so intense and to see him finally hang ‘em up, it’s sad, but we all knew it was coming sometime soon. I grew up loving Kobe, so I’m happy for him. Like I said, he’s a legend, done many amazing thing and his legacy will live forever."
"It’s crazy to see that day come. I’m from California, been watching Kobe ever since I was little. I have posters of Kobe in my house still, just been following Kobe. That’s my favorite player and it’s kind of cool that I actually got to play against him finally before he retires. To see the type of legacy that he’s left on the NBA, the kind of work that he’s done in the league, you just have to appreciate what he’s done."
"He was and still is a legend. Obviously people here in L.A. love him but when he comes to Portland or you see him on TV, the fans go crazy when he gets introduced. Seventeen All-Stars, an NBA MVP, five championships, the guy is an absolute legend. He definitely left a huge imprint on the game. An assassin on the offensive end but I think he won eight or nine first-team All-Defense, so the guy can play. He’s at the top of almost everything in Lakers history, the list goes on and on, a lot of accolades."
"To be able to play versus him is pretty cool. Obviously he’s one of the greatest and growing up, I was on the tail end of Michael Jordan’s career so (Bryant) was the one guy that had the league, basically. It was cool to watch, cool to see him develop, going from different numbers to different ways to play the game. When he was athletic — he’s still athletic — but when he was soaring through the air and when he was posting up and outsmarting guys. It’s the end of an era and it’s something that you have to respect."