All posts by Dillon Meehan

Not So Fast, Tom Brady

by Tyler Roaix

The NFL has won the latest round in its Deflategate legal battle and Tom Brady is once again suspended for the first four games of the season.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the NFL does indeed have the authority to suspend Brady, overturning a lower court ruling and reinstating the four-game suspension that Brady was originally handed last year.

“We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness,” the Court said of the 2-1 decision.

Two seasons ago, en route to their fourth Super Bowl, the New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game. The Colts suggested the Patriots were using footballs that were deflated past the legal pounds per square inch (psi), which led to a big, drawn-out investigation by the league, Tom Brady destroying a cell phone and documents being likely mishandled and misinterpreted. The whole thing clouded both the off-season and the start of the following season. The infamous Wells Report that resulted said that Brady had a “more probable than not” involvement with the tampering.

The league’s findings in the Deflategate investigation were that Brady was more likely than not to have ordered the Patriots’ equipment staff to deflate footballs below the minimum level of 12.5 psi. Brady has insisted that he did no such thing.

The biggest misconception over the latest ruling is that this is about what Brady and the Patriots did. “This wasn’t about the actual violation,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “This was about the rights we had negotiated in our collective bargaining agreement, that we had in our collective bargaining agreement, and that we wanted to make sure that we retained.”

Essentially, the question isn’t if the Patriots violated any rules, it’s whether or not Goodell and the NFL had the right to give the penalties they gave to the team and future Hall of Famer.

There have been so many twists and turns in the Deflategate saga that no one should assume it’s over, but for the moment the NFL has won, Brady has lost and the Patriots appear set to start the season without their star quarterback.

For a player of Brady’s stature, the first question you would ask is, “How much money is he losing?” But he’s no dummy. In fact it’s almost as if he saw this coming. In March, Brady and the Patriots renegotiated his deal to go from $9 million per year to $1 million per year in base salary. A player with at least 10 years in the league is required to make at least $985,000, so Brady’s new deal is essentially paying him the league minimum.

Why so little? Because Brady received a $28 million signing bonus when the deal was made. Perhaps Brady wanted a little insurance just in case the suspension was in fact overturned. The new deal ends up saving Brady almost $2 million during the four-game suspension.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed his displeasure with the suspension. “I share in our fans’ anger and frustration with the penalties the league has levied and the entire process and how it was conducted. But please trust that I am always trying to do what I believe is best for this franchise and pledge that I will always continue to do that.”

With the four-game suspension, the Pats will turn to backup Jimmy Garoppolo, who has just 31 pass attempts in his young NFL career. In reality, this isn’t going to have a major impact on the team’s playoff chances. The closest competition they have in their division is the New York Jets, who don’t even have a quarterback at this point. With that said, the Patriots’ first four matchups of the 2016 season are as follows; at Cardinals and then at home against Dolphins, Texans and Bills. Worst-case scenario is the Patriots go 2-2, then Brady comes back and leads the team to yet another division title.

Every sports talk show will rave about Tom Brady’s suspension all summer as if it is the biggest headline, but in reality it doesn’t mean much. It gives Roger Goodell a very rare notch in the win column. It gives us fans of every other team a brief moment to celebrate that Big Bad Brady finally got tripped up. But that moment is only going to last four weeks, so cherish it. When Brady comes back, he’s going to be the Brady we love to hate. He’s going to be the guy who wins games and sends us home disappointed. He may be gone for now, but come playoff time, it will be the same story that it is every year.

Cowboys Made the Wrong Decision Drafting Ezekiel Elliott

by Dillon Meehan

2015 was a rough year for the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo’s shoulder injury sidelined him for 12 games and Dallas finished with a 4-12 record. With Romo set to return with a surgically repaired shoulder, the Cowboys had the number four pick in the draft and had a chance to find the missing piece they needed to solidify their defense and take control of the NFC East. And then they blew it.

Despite having the fourth pick and having plenty of defensive talent, such as DeForest Buckner or Jalen Ramsey on the board, the Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick.

Is Elliot a phenomenal player who possesses a unique skillset? Of course, but it was not the right call to make with the fourth pick. Dallas had a lot of production out of Darren McFadden and recently signed Alfred Morris this offseason. In the modern-day NFL, it is important to have a good running game, not necessarily a good running back.

Elliot was given a top-15 grade by most analysts and would likely have been available just outside the top 10. Dallas could have found a way to trade back, acquire future picks and then draft him around nine or ten and have saved cap space as well.

But they didn’t and now Jerry Jones can have his dream of having another set of triplets to haunt opposing defenses. In the 1990s it was Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. Now it is Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott. With the Cowboys having arguably the best offensive line in football, there is no doubt Elliot will have success, but the value lost just simply is not worth it.

There is this mentality in the drafting process to take the best player available; most teams follow it while some don’t. The only team that flat-out admits to drafting for need is Seattle. What makes this situation so interesting is that Dallas is not in need of a running back, nor was Elliot the best player available. It was a decision to draft a running back to add to an already stacked position.

There are holes in the secondary, among the defensive line and even in the linebacker corps, which they filled to an extent by drafting Jaylon Smith the following round, but it is unknown if he will return to previous form.

After looking so smart and drafting Zack Martin and Byron Jones with their first pick the past two years, Dallas appeared to have caved in to allow owner Jerry Jones to pick, after having to swallow his pride and watch Johnny Manziel fall to Cleveland two years ago.

While they went for defensive linemen in the third and fourth rounds, it is likely that those picks will see playing time while Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence are out, but after the first four games, they will likely be fringe players with the potential to become quality rotational players.

Hoops for Homeless Supports Children in New Britain Community

by Tyler Roaix

The fourth annual Hoops for Homeless event took place April 30 in New Britain. The event is an all-ages annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament staged on Main Street in downtown New Britain next to Central Park. All proceeds from this event will be given to local projects that will directly address homelessness in New Britain. The Boys and Girls Club of New Britain, the Friendship Service Center of New Britain and the Prudence Crandall Center headline the beneficiaries.

Jacob Werblow is a professor of Teacher Education at Central Connecticut and also one of the co-founders of the tournament.

“This is a fundraiser as well as advocacy for children and family who are homeless in New Britain,” said Werblow. “So all the money that’s raised, all the proceeds raised from this event are given directly to organizations that work to support children and families in our community.”

According to Werblow, there are over 200 children in the New Britain public school system who are classified as homeless. This doesn’t necessarily mean they live on the streets. They could be residing in temporary housing, living with a neighbor or family member or even living with other families in a one bedroom complex.

Camden Musgrave, a player on the CCSU women’s team, was also a referee for the event. She shared what it’s like to be a part of the experience.

“We’re here to support our community and help our kids grow to be great athletes, one day hopefully they support Central. We like to encourage sportsmanship both on and off the court from both parents and players,” said Musgrave.

“Referees as well as many CCSU students are behind the scenes who help setup, help distribute materials, helping with the event,” said Werblow. “So we are very blessed to have everyone here.”

Registration for the benefit was $50 per team this year. More information can be found at ccsu.edu/hoopsforhomeless or at the group’s Facebook page.

Contributed reporting by Chante Davis.

Laremy Tunsil Stole the Show Thursday Night, For All the Wrong Reasons

by Dillon Meehan

It’s the end of April and just like every year the NFL draft has given us plenty of storylines. This year was different for a few reasons; the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles mortgaged their future by giving up multiple picks to each draft a quarterback with the first and second pick.

Due to the injuries to linebackers Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith, Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil was number one on several analysts’ draft boards. With Jared Goff off to Los Angeles and Carson Wentz in Philly, the Chargers were slotted as the next team to pick. Tunsil seemed to be the obvious choice. San Diego’s offense line was marred by injuries in 2015 and adding Tunsil was common sense. But then his chances of becoming the number three overall pick went up in smoke, literally.

At 7:47 p.m., just 13 minutes before the start of the draft, a video of Tunsil taking a gas mask bong hit was posted on his verified Twitter account. It didn’t make any sense. Why would a player who was guaranteed to be a top five pick post something so stupid?

The Chargers instead drafted Joey Bosa, the top pass rusher in the draft. San Diego was rumored to be locked in on one player, but it is hard to imagine Bosa being their guy scheme-wise.

Then one by one, teams began to draft other players; even Baltimore, who were in need of a tackle, took Ronnie Stanley out of Notre Dame. A report has since been released, saying that Baltimore had taken Tunsil off their board after they saw the video.

Yes, the Baltimore Ravens, the same team that has a statue outside of their stadium of a man who was charged with murder, but then struck a plea deal to obstruction of justice and testified against his two friends. The same team who named Terell Suggs their defensive captain after he allegedly dragged his then-girlfriend by her hair outside of a moving car and threatened to pour bleach on her and her one-year-old child. That team took Tunsil off their draft board.

Two picks later, the Tennessee Titans, who had held the number one pick before trading back with the Rams, traded up. And while Tunsil was on their radar, they decided to draft Jack Conklin, a left tackle out of Michigan State who was given a late-first round grade.

By then it was practically chaos on social media. It is hard to imagine teams being scared by a player recording himself taking a bong hit. While it is dumb, players have done far worst and still were drafted just as high. However, it wasn’t Tunsil’s only red flag. He had a few injury issues and is currently being sued by his stepfather for alleging assaulting him – according to Tunsil, he was protecting his mother who was being abused. To some, that isn’t something to be worried about, but after teams saw what happened to players like Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon, they have a right to be gun-shy.

Five picks later, the Dolphins finally ended Tunsil’s night from hell and drafted him. Unfortunately, it was only beginning. Immediately after being drafted, his Instagram account posted screenshots of a conversation with an Ole Miss staffer, asking for money not only to pay his rent, but his mother’s utility bill as well. All of this coming just two months after Ole Miss was hit with numerous recruiting violations.

Even then, after having his Twitter and Instagram accounts hacked, his night still wasn’t over. During his post-draft press conference, Tunsil, who for some reason was left alone without his agent, admitted to taking money from Ole Miss. It was shocking. While everyone knows that recruiting is a dirty business, it is left alone and often not investigated by the media. Before reporters could ask more follow-up questions, Tunsil’s interview was cut short and he was escorted out of the press area.

In the social media age it is easy for an athlete or a coach to simply reply with “I got hacked” whenever they do something dumb on social media. It is the go-to excuse and it is never believable. For the first time, this was a valid excuse. Someone had a vendetta against Tunsil and he lost millions of dollars because of it.

Originally, all signs pointed to his stepfather as the culprit. It was the only logical option, at least to the general public. However the Palm Beach Post is reporting that his former financial advisor, who was fired before the draft, is responsible.

The entire situation is still unclear. Tunsil has a toxic family history and it is tough to tell if he will be reprimanded for the video. A source told ESPN that he is likely to be given a clean slate, however the situation is being closely monitored.

It is hard not to root for Tunsil; he did the right thing and admitted he was in the video, adding that it is two years old. Admitting to breaking NCAA rules is confusing yet it shows that he is honest. One would hope that all of these red flags are just a coincidence and that he has a good head on his shoulders, but in the NFL, nothing is certain.

Blue Devils Drop Series Opener Against LIU Brooklyn

by Daniel Bates

The Central Connecticut baseball team dropped their series opener to Long Island University Brooklyn 2-0 on Friday afternoon. The Blue Devils were held to only six hits on the day as LIU’s Baylor LaPointe threw a complete game shutout.

“We weren’t able to capitalize and put pressure on them and on the couple occasions that we did, we didn’t have the right guy up,” explained CCSU Head Coach Charlie Hickey. “But, it’s game one, we have three more starting tomorrow and we’ll come out and play as hard as we can.”

With the loss, CCSU slips to 15-21 overall and 7-10 in Northeast Conference play, while LIU improves their record to 11-22 overall and 5-6 in the NEC.

The Blackbirds kept consistent pressure on the Blue Devils all game long. LIU loaded the bases in the top of the first, but senior pitcher Casey Brown worked his way out to escape the inning without allowing a run.

LIU broke through and scored the first run of the game in the top of the fourth, following Charles Misiano’s RBI single up the middle. A great diving stop by sophomore second baseman Dean Lockery ended the inning, allowing the Blue Devils to limit the damage to just one run.

“He’s one of our best players and we expect him to do that stuff,” said Hickey.

The game was interrupted with two outs in the top of the sixth due to a lightning delay. Before play was stopped, Harrison Preschel had doubled and Andrew Turner walked to put runners in scoring position for LIU. Following an almost 30 minute delay, right fielder Joe Mercadante hit a two out single to left, to drive in Preschel and increase the lead to 2-0.

The Blue Devils made a late push in the bottom of the ninth; scraping together back-to-back singles to threaten the LIU lead. Senior Corey Lerche and sophomore Nick Garland recorded base hits to place runners on first and second, but LaPointe finished the Blue Devils off with a game-winning strikeout to seal the win.

Senior Matt Martinez finished two-for-three at the plate on the day and was the only Blue Devil to reach third base, when he did so in the bottom of the third inning. Martinez, Lerche and Garland combined for all six of the Blue Devil’s hits in the contest, each with two respectively.

Brown threw seven innings, allowing two runs on nine hits. He struck out five, and walked one.

LaPointe improved to 4-5 on the year, throwing nine innings of no-run ball, giving up 6 hits, with four strikeouts and one walk.

The Blackbirds finished the game with a total of 11 hits. Mercadante and Misiano each had two hits and a run batted in, leading the offense for LIU.

The Blue Devils are on the road next week as they take on Albany on Tuesday and face Northeastern in a weekend series.

Game Of Throne’s Premier Refuses to Answer the Largest Question

by Dillon Meehan

It has been a long eight months, but Game of Thrones is finally back. Fans were forced to sit and wait, with some turning to Reddit and other messaging boards to discuss the various plot lines that were left unanswered at the end of season five.

For fans of the show who have not yet caught up, stop reading now, as this article will contain major spoilers not only about season six, but of prior seasons as well.

HBO has made sure to milk the death of Jon Snow for all that it is worth. In the winter, the teaser poster was released which only featured a picture of Snow and season six’s release date.

When the first trailer was released, it was a camera zooming in on the dead body of Snow lying in the bloody snow, with the sign “Traitor” nailed above him; sunday’s premiere started with the same exact shot.

The premiere was properly titled “The Red Woman,” named after Melisandre, the woman who every crackpot Reddit conspirator believes will be responsible for bringing back Jon Snow.

The Red Priestess had spent a handful of season’s convincing Stannis Baratheon that he will become King, to the point that he even sacrificed his daughter by burning her at the stake at the end of season five.

However when Melisandre’s prophecy does not come true, fans believed that her God the “Lord of the Light,” was nothing more than a scam.

But the final scene of Sunday’s premier served one purpose: to show the true power of the Lord of Light, and how much power all Red Priests and Priestess’ have.

Apart from the disgusting final image that all Thrones fans were forced to sit through, there was another scene involving Melisandre that was nearly as interesting. Davos is now pushed into a corner with his life on the line and will be forced to essentially weaponize her in order to save his own life and resurrect Jon Snow.

The fear amongst most fans was that Jon Snow’s resurrection would not be done in the first episode and in typical Thrones fashion, would take half the season. With one episode down, a mere suggestion of him coming back has yet to be muttered by a single person.

With so many other plot lines currently in full swing, there is a good chance that this will be dragged along for multiple episodes until Sansa, and most likely Bran all join together at Castle Black.

 

The Cinderella Story That Will Never Be Repeated

by Dillon Meehan

Over the past decade, cash has become king in soccer. While some of the worlds top clubs have a rich and storied history, others such as Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have billionaire owners who have taken them from mediocrity to winning multiple league titles.

Heading into this fall, Chelsea and Manchester City were once again expected to battle it out for the Barclays Premier League trophy. But for once, money will not prevail.

Enter Leicester City, it is a name that is rarely even uttered as a relegation team, let alone as a mid-table, or dare one say a champion-esque team. Even to some hardcore fans, the ones who wake up early every Saturday and Sunday morning, it is a name that was still unrecognizable a few months ago.

But now with three games left to play in the season, Leicester has a chance to shock the world and capture the league with a win on Sunday against Manchester United. A team that was a 5,000-1 odd in August will win the Premier League.

They are managed by Claudio Ranieri, a man who has become more famous for his inability to capture a league title. He uses a simple 4-4-2 formation, he doesn’t rely on his central defenders to push the ball up field, which has become commonplace in today’s game. It is an old-school style that is rarely seen in 2016.

For some, this is a changing of the guard in soccer. They believe this is the end of big money, and heavy spending. That teams will rely more on building a team from within. They are wrong.

Will teams still rely on youth systems for players? Of course. Manchester City just spent hundred of millions of dollars on a new training ground with an emphasis on youth development. Teams will always look for “home grown” talent. But they will also spend for key players when they can.

Next year, Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho will be heading to Manchester City and United, Chelsea and Arsenal are also expected to appoint new managers. When Managers come to a team, they bring in players to fit their season; it is likely that those teams will spend over a billion dollars combined in the summer.

For Leicester, they will have solidified the title of the world’s greatest underdog story. Making the Boise State Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma and the 2004 Red Sox comeback against the Yankees look like sure things.

They are a phenomenal story, but it is just that. Next year it will go back to how things “should” work. Liverpool and Manchester United teams that are perennial top four teams that will have revamped squads. It won’t last.

 

Blue Devils Show Progress With Annual Blue-White Game

by Dillon Meehan

With only a handful of months before Central Connecticut’s football season kicks off, the team gathered for their annual Blue-White game. The game that featured the Blue team (offense) against the White team (defense) is less for the players’ benefit than it is a chance for the fans to get excited about the upcoming season.

After spending the past month and a half practicing, the team was able to show off their progress made since last November.

“We made a lot of progress,” said Head Coach Pete Rossomando after the game.

The Blue team was able to defeat the White team 47-25 in a game that awarded each side points for unusual reasons, such as quarterback sacks or first downs.

“Overall, we’re good. Jake has had a really great camp, he has established himself as a starter and we think going forward that he is going to be a guy that is going to help us,” said Rossomando of his starting quarterback.

It has been an interesting year and a half for Jake Dolegala. An injury to fellow freshman Tavion Pauldo gave him the opportunity to split time as the starting quarterback, a position he has since solidified as his own after Pauldo left the team this spring.

“Knowing that the job is mine now, it has settled me down. Allowing me to be myself out there, and not be as nervous,” said Dolegala of winning the position as starting quarterback.

In 11 games last season, Dolegala showed improvements in nearly every game, moving from a quarterback who barely had a grasp of offense to someone who could be relied on to win games.

“It was there in the spring [last year] but a freshman quarterback is a freshman quarterback. It’s still a lot to learn. He did a great job,” said Rossomando. “He got us our first win against Bowie and played every game, valuable experience that you can’t put a price tag on. You can see it in his leadership and his comfort with the offense.”

Dolegala completed 13-20 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. The highlight of the game was his 52-yard throw to classmate Trey Hodge on a deep post. The following play, Dolegala found sophomore Joey Fields wide open in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.

“When I first got out here, the game was so fast. But now playing against our defense, which is one of the best in the conference, it has really slowed down for me,” said Dolegala of his ability to read a defense.

Apart from the improvements on offense, the Blue Devils continue to improve on their stellar defense that is retuning seven players who received All-Conference honors.

“Defensively, we’re really strong right now,“ said Rossomando.

The secondary has been the strongpoint for the Blue Devils during Rossomando’s tenure, and next fall looks as though it may be the best in the conference.

Jevon Elmore, who is entering his senior year, was one of two Blue Devils named to the NEC’s first team All-Conference list. However there is another member of the Blue Devils’ secondary that is challenging for a spot as CCSU’s best defensive back.

Najae Brown, a sophomore safety, was named to the NEC second team last fall, and Rossomando believes he can become the best player in the conference.

Two years ago, Brown was named the Division II Defensive Freshman of the Year while playing for New Haven. When Rossomando left New Haven for CCSU in January 2014, Brown followed and has continued to become a standout player.

“We have a lot of experience coming back this year,” said Brown. “This should be the year where we make that big jump forward. I’m looking forward to the challenge and making that leap.”

CCSU’s season starts out Friday, September 2 when they take on Lafayette at 6:00 p.m.

Welcome, Donyell

by Dillon Meehan

After days of speculations and rumors, Central Connecticut officially announced the hiring of Donyell Marshall last Wednesday.

The following day, CCSU held a press conference in Founder’s Hall to formally introduce Marshall as the tenth coach in the programs history.

After landing a job as an assistant at the University of Buffalo, Marshall will be taking his first job as a head coach.

Marshall will be replacing Howie Dickenman, who is not only the man who coached him at UConn, but recruited him out of high school.

“You look at the career he has had, and the money he has made, and he is still one of the most humble, thankful and appreciative people you will ever meet,” said Dickenman about his former player.

It will be a tough situation for Marshall, who is being brought in to turn around a program that has been stagnant for the past few years. Luckily enough, he has the experience of playing under not only coach Jim Calhoun, but also under Jerry Sloan and with Lebron James.

“When you have a guy like that in your corner who has won three national championships, to be able to pick up the phone and call a guy like that is relaxing,” said Marshall following his press conference. “I’ve learned a lot from the greats that I played with and sometimes being able to call those guys and giving them a chance to talk to those guys in front of the team has always been helpful.”

Calhoun attended the press conference with his son, Jeffery, who roomed with Marshall while at UConn.

“When [Stephen] Curry hit those 12 three pointers last week who’s record did he tie? Donyell Marshall’s. When the Cavs drafted Lebron James number one overall in 2003, who did they have him live with? Donyell Marshall, because of his mature approach to the game. I think Central is getting a really special guy,” said Calhoun of his former player.

Marshall said he told players on Wednesday that the season has already begun. With seven months until the season opener, many expect this team to learn from his high basketball IQ.

“It felt great, I had a one-on-one talk with him and it was awesome. He told me about how excited he was for the future and everything he intends to do for us, and I think he’s going to do a great job at it,” said freshman forward Evan Phoenix.

The hope is that Marshall’s 15-year NBA experience will help bring in recruits. Marshall was the recruiting coordinator and helped with player development while helping lead Buffalo to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and the first team to win back-to-back Mid-American Conference titles in 14-years.

The End of An Era

by Tyler Roaix

In 1996, a high school kid named Kobe Bean Bryant from Pennsylvania burst onto the NBA scene and took the league by the hand. On Wednesday night, Kobe Bryant will finally let go, as his 20th and final season comes to an end.

In the last two decades he has been called many names. Why? Maybe it’s because he’s the kind of player who grits his teeth in a way that terrifies you. Maybe it’s because in even the toughest spots, you still know he’s going to beat you. Maybe it’s simply because he is that good. Either way, it’s been obvious from the very start that he was something special.

Sustaining an unprecedented level of success for 20 consecutive seasons with the most storied franchise in NBA history, Bryant has remained dominant, despite consistently competing against rosters of talented superstars and future Hall-of-Famers. Bryant’s legacy has transcended eras, adding timeless chapters to an iconic dynasty previously defined by legendary names such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West. Combining relentless tenacity, intense focus and an unmatched will to win, Kobe not only pushed every player who shared the roster to be the best, he undoubtedly enhanced the energy and excitement that propelled the NBA.

After reaching the level of a legitimate superstar in just his fourth season, the eventual five-time champion kept getting better, continuously improving new parts of his game each summer. In a way, Bryant sort of lacks a true prime. That’s not a bad thing. His game never stopped evolving, and before his Achilles’ heel popped in 2013, it was perfectly reasonable to equate Bryant with immortality.

Of course, he is not immortal. In fact, it’s easy to argue that Bryant has actually played too long. The last three years, he has suffered injuries that shortened his season. Now he’s playing on a Lakers team that is putting up the worst record in franchise history. Amid drama and speculation, Bryant is quietly having a solid year, averaging a modest 17 points per game.

Bryant’s 2005-06 campaign stands as his finest statistical season and one of the most impressive years any player has ever had, averaging 35.4 points per game, making 45 percent of his shots and scoring at least 50 points six times. Only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain ever totaled more points in one year. Despite zero, the Lakers still won 45 games and finished with the eighth best offense in the league. Bryant also managed to score 81 points in one game against the Toronto Raptors that season. Kobe: a miracle worker.

After five championships, an MVP award, 15 All-Star appearances, and some of the most memorable performances in NBA history, it’s hard to deny that Bryant is one of the most legendary players ever. Magic Johnson himself called Bryant the best Laker of all time. But it is his heart and tenacity that make him one of the greats.

“Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game,” said Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, according to a statement to AP.

“My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye,” said Bryant in a statement to the Player’s Tribune.

Those are the words of an icon that has devoted his entire life to a game he loves. Bryant loves basketball in a way that seems almost unimaginable. But he simply has nothing left in the tank.

I grew up watching Bryant win championships and make opponents look just flat out silly. He was the reason I became a basketball fan. He was the man I was inspired by and the player I pretended to be.

As a basketball fan, to see a true sports icon ride off into the sunset leaves me with a sort of emptiness. Bryant is basketball, and basketball is Bryant. The idea of the two not going hand-in-hand any longer just doesn’t make sense. His retirement leaves a void that LeBron James or even Stephen Curry couldn’t fill. I’ll always love the game of basketball, but it will never be the same again.

Kobe Bryant the basketball player is retiring, but to me, there is something beyond that which remains and can’t be defeated by Father Time. The “Mamba Mentality” will live forever in myself as well as millions of others and the mark this man has left on the game will never ever be forgotten.