For the past 20 seasons, Kobe Bryant has redefined his generation, taking over the NBA throne that was left vacated once Michael Jordan retired for good. And as The Black Mamba continues on his farewell tour, he is finding out just how much respect other teams, players and all-time greats have for him.
One of those guys is Jerry West—you know, the guy who’s the silhouette for the NBA logo—who was the general manager of the L.A. Lakers when they traded for the then 17-year-old Bryant back in 1996, forming a bond that has been strong ever since.
Prior to last night’s game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors, where West serves as a front office executive with the Dubs, the NBA Hall of Famer sent an emotional farewell video for Bryant, and it might just get you guys a little choked up.
The normally stoic Bryant, who was playing his last game in the Bay Area, had this to say after seeing the video, per BallIsLife:
“That was a tough one for me to get through,” Bryant said after the game. “That got me a little bit.”
“He’s the man that believed in me from the beginning. The conversation that I had with him sitting in the Forum locker room and just being in awe of sitting in Magic [Johnson]‘s locker and sitting next to Jerry West talking about basketball. That’s before anybody knew anything. That was special.”
Following the game, West continued to praise Kobe, saying words that shows just how much he adores the five-time NBA champ, per ESPN:
“My admiration for him will be my lasting memories when I leave this Earth, but he’s just someone I’ve always loved. I’ve loved him like my son, to be honest with you.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Bryant received quite the gift from Golden State after the game, with the team gifting Kobe an enormous bottle of wine and a Napa Valley vacation package.
Sure, the league is going to miss Kobe Bryant and fans will debate who will become his second-coming, but life’s pretty good for the guy right now, and it’s well-deserved.