i was about 12 when i became a fan of kobe. when kobe was drafted, traded, and played for the lakers, the perception i had was that he was just an athletic player that would usually find himself on the bench of any team. he didn't shoot the ball well, but can get up and dunk over some people.
he might have airballed a lot of jumpshots during a crucial playoff game. i didn't think he had a future actually. i thought he would be stuck like many of the players coming off from highschool, physically capable players but, because of the lack of training, do not have proper work ethics
kobe proved many wrong. seemingly learning from the errors from their recent playoff struggles, he became a really consistent perimeter shooter. combined with his agility and leaping ability, he became a player quite difficult to defend. it's either you face guard him (where he's probably burn you on a drive and dunk on your face) or anticipate the drive and give some space (where you'll probably be shaking your head after he drilled a fadeaway jumper).
throughout these years, i watched laker games, got some of his kicks, his replica jersey, tried to imitate his improbable fadeaway jumpers or how he shuffles his feet when he drives down the lane.
its tough to imagine that in a few years, he will inevitably be retiring. this might have been said a couple of times, but because of the negativity (like some mistaking his competitive drive for arrogance) that surrounded him, the nba, with its fans and players, might have not cherished him enough.
i hope that in seasons to come, whenever we would see the lakers play, we wouldn't regret that we missed the opportunity to appreciate, enjoy, and see a legend play at his prime.