Despite playing the majority of his career more than 2,600 miles away, the late Kobe Bryant’s impact was felt amongst local hoopers.
The death of Bryant and daughter Gianna along with seven other passengers in a helicopter crash Sunday sent shockwaves throughout the entire world including the local area.
Local high school basketball players in the area looked at Bryant as a sports icon even though most came of age after Bryant’s 1999-2002 three-peat and even after his 81-point game against the Raptors in 2006.
In the digital age, sites like YouTube have been key in giving the younger generation a look into how Kobe played in his prime and even earlier.
"Through YouTube, I have been able to experience Kobe’s famous moments from earlier in his career, such as his 1997 Dunk Contest win and his 81-point game in 2006," said Haverling High School senior shooting guard Justin Marshall. "These memories of being able to watch Kobe throughout his career have given me the opportunity to see why Kobe was one of the best in the game."
Some local players even tabbed Bryant as their favorite player growing up, practicing different Kobe-style moves.
"He was my favorite player, so I kind of tried to model my game after him," Corning Hawks junior guard Jalen Henderson said.
Corning sophomore guard Aidan Chamberlin’s favorite Kobe moment was a fast break from Bryant in which he went behind the back and threw down a reverse jam against the Denver Nuggets in 2003 -- the same year Chamberlin was born.
Beyond his greatness on the court, Kobe has impacted local basketball players by his storied work ethic and "Mamba Mentality" way of attacking goals and aspirations.
"Just how he carried himself, how hard he played the game and how hard he worked set a great example for myself for what you have to do to be great," said Chamberlin.
Wherever Kobe is tagged on NBA hierarchies, his global impact has been profound.
"There are few names in NBA history that can be regarded as some of the best, most well-respected players, and for me, Kobe Bryant will always be at the top of that list," said Marshall.
Bryant’s legacy lives on among local hoopers -- including one thing all said they had in common.
Whenever they take a shot on a trash can with a paper ball, or whatever situation they’re in, they always yell: "Kobe!"