Bryant built Hall of Fame career with tireless work ethic

Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:17am EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For 20 long seasons, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant lit up the National Basketball Association with a work ethic and closing ability matched by very few until he finally ended his stellar career on Wednesday.

At the age of 37, he realized that time was running out and last November he announced that the 2015-16 season would be his last as his battered body was no longer able to withstand the rigors of protracted campaigns.

Five-time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer Bryant was sidelined for nearly eight months in 2013 with a torn Achilles' tendon, then played just six games during the 2013-14 season because of a severe knee injury.

Last season, he played 35 games but increasingly suffered soreness in his knees, feet and back, prompting coach Byron Scott to cut back significantly on Bryant's playing time going forward while altering his on-court role.

His 2015-16 campaign has effectively been a farewell tour, his time on court significantly cut back though he ended up playing in 66 of 82 games, particularly on the road, to give fans one last chance to say goodbye.

Popularly known as 'Black Mamba', Bryant made a living by making the seemingly impossible possible for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Until age finally caught up with him, he made a habit of draining game-winning shots despite being double or triple-teamed, establishing a reputation for being one of the best ever closers in the NBA as a shooting guard.

At times, Bryant has been accused of being a ball-hog, though he has frequently excelled as a facilitator and is unrivalled in the modern game when it comes to basketball IQ.   Continued...

April 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers  forward Kobe Bryant (24) speaks to the crowd following the 101-96 victory against Utah Jazz during the second half at Staples Center. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports