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“He’s always trying to take your heart out. And you’ve gotta be ready for that.”
After 20 seasons in the NBA, Kobe Bryant is finally hanging up his sneakers. Throughout his two-decade tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant built a reputation for being a fierce – borderline homicidal – competitor. Bryant wanted to be the very best, and if you weren’t down with it, he set out to destroy you, whether you were a friend or foe. After all, that’s why Kobe started comparing himself to the Black Mamba, a deadly snake whose bite can potentially kill someone in less than an hour. (Apparently no one had the courage to tell Bryant that it’s lame to give yourself a nickname.) Nike rounded up some of the greatest athletes of the last decade to describe Kobe’s impact on their lives, including Brazilian soccer star Neymar, pro skateboarder Paul “P-Rod” Rodriguez and Argentine soccer player Javier Mascherano.