Why Kobe Bryant resonates like few athletes before him

Two anniversaries this weekend remind us of indelible Mamba memories

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By scoring 60 points in his final game in 2016, Kobe Bryant left us with a lasting memory. (Credit: Getty Images)

Many athletes have authored unforgettable careers. And yet, that doesn’t mean all sports legends maintain their relevance year in and year out.

Have there been athletes more special than Kobe Bryant? Sure. But no one owns an annual relevance timeline like he does.

What am I talking about?

A ticket to Kobe Bryant's final game in 2016 remains a sought-after collectible.
A ticket to Kobe Bryant's final game in 2016 remains a sought-after collectible.

Many explain Kobe’s relevance in today’s world, including in collectibles, by his style of play, how he lived and how his life was tragically cut short.

Let me add another reason. The timeline of his moments being stacked together forces us to remember him in concentrated bursts more than most athletes.

Although he won five NBA titles, many consider the most famous moment of his “Mamba Mentality” career the game he played April 12, 2013 — 11 years ago today. That’s when Bryant tore his Achilles, but insisted on walking to the foul line to hit the shots.

And then there’s April 13, 2016, Kobe’s last game, when he scored 60 points. That memorable scoring outburst came in a season when he struggled to make it on the court every night.

Two career defining games on back-to-back dates on the calendar. The anniversaries, one after the other, ensure we are talking about Kobe for 48 hours.

And that’s not it.

Kobe’s birthday is August 23 (he would have been 46 this year). The next day is 8-24. Thanks to the two jersey numbers he wore, that’s the annual Mamba Day.

Again, two days in succession, twice a year. No other celebrity has that. Not Michael Jordan. Not George Washington. Not Elizabeth Taylor or Kim Kardashian.

Sure, MJ has the flu game and his “last shot” with the Bulls — which happened in the same week in June, one year apart. But his birthday is not a thing like Kobe’s is, and there isn’t a day on the calendar that he owns.

The hyper focus on days like these makes Kobe more collectible because we are reminded of him in these moments. We talk about him obsessively.

It also makes collectors more confident in purchasing his events because his relevance is guaranteed like no other.

Darren Rovell is the founder of cllct.com and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectible market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.