Ever since lifting his fifth championship trophy, Kobe made it his mission to catch up with his basketball idol. And he was so close he could taste it. Unfortunately, that’s as close as he got.
Five years and a painful infographic of injuries later, Bryant is dressing up for the final time in his 20-year NBA career, still being “stuck” with the same number of rings – five. By that point it was obvious; the quest for the holy grail is over. Bryant did pass MJ in scoring but failed to match him in championships. Unless if Jeanie Buss’s retirement gift counts?
“This is a quiet moment, and a night that’s full of emotion, and this is an opportunity for me to share something from heart with Kobe and Vanessa.”Jeanie Buss, Starr Cards
It was right before Bryant was about to play in his final NBA game that the Lakers’ executive presented Kobe and his wife with incredible gifts – two 25-diamond custom rings as a thank you for everything Mamba had done for the organization.
“Five large diamonds representing the championships, and 20 smaller diamonds representing 20 years with one team which we’ll, I don’t think we’ll ever see again.”Jeanie Buss, Starr Cards
According to a spokesperson from the jeweler, Jason of Beverly Hills is made up of round white diamonds with a total carat weight of 4.87 carats set onto approximately 70 grams of 14 karats yellow and white gold. The sides have his two jersey numbers and his nickname, and there’s even a “strip of snakeskin as a testament to his Black Mamba nickname,” according to the press release.
It’s not quite what Kobe had in mind, but he was still wowed with the gift and the message behind it. At that point in his career, Kobe was at peace with not catching up with MJ. That final stretch of his career was about gratefulness, not competitiveness.
Except for that farewell game of course, when Bryant dropped 60 on the Jazz, and led the Lakers to a comeback victory for the final time in his all-time great NBA career. A career that was intertwined with five championship rings, and the ultimate thank you ring given to him by the Lakers organization. And the way I see it, that was The Ring.