If you’ve been reading what current and former NBA players have been saying about Kobe Bryant since his death yesterday, you’ll know that his peers considered him one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
And next to that, you’ll also know they considered him one of the fiercest competitors in NBA history.
That’s what set Kobe Bryant apart from most of his peers. Kobe wasn’t the most athletic NBA player from his era, that was probably Vince Carter. Kobe wasn’t the most talented player from his era, that was probably Tracy McGrady. Kobe wasn’t even the most dominant player from his era, that was LeBron James.
However, Kobe Bryant was the fiercest competitor in the NBA. That’s why he somehow managed to live up to the Michael Jordan comparisons while wearing the most intimidating team jerseys in the NBA. That’s why he managed to score 81 points in a single game–at a time when many NBA teams failed to score 80 in a single game.
His competitiveness is why he managed to outplay almost all of his peers, including the players who were more naturally gifted than he was. Kobe wouldn’t have won 5 NBA championships if he wasn’t extremely competitive, and he wouldn’t have scored 60 points in his final NBA game either.
Kobe seemed impossible to defeat on the court, and given his recent Oscar award, he seemed impossible to defeat off the court too.
But even fierce competitors like Kobe ultimately lose to death. We cannot defeat death. 10 out of 10 people die, including Kobe Bryant, including you.
But death cannot compete against the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even as I mourn Kobe’s death, I rejoice in the resurrection. I am no match for death, but death is no match for Jesus Christ.