By Lakisha Brown
Students financed an estimated $115 million of the 2015-2016 operating budget, 20 percent above their fair share, while the state and county failed to meet their financial obligations.
“State financial aid shall be one-third of the operating costs…the local sponsor shall provide one-half of the amount of the capital costs or so much as may be necessary, and one-third, or in the case of a college implementing a program of full opportunity for local residents, four-fifteenths of the operating costs,” according to Article 126, section 6304 (a-c) of the New York State Education Law. The state and county (local sponsors) are responsible by law for one-third of the operating costs of the college, however, the statues have continuously been ignored by budget legislatures.
New York’s community college’s original funding contract was established based on a one-third shared payment between students, local sponsors, and the state. Both the state’s and county’s support decreased gradually, while students provided more than their combined share. “This has happened despite the Education Law’s stipulation that tuition and fees charged to community college students shall not exceed one-third of operating costs,” H. Carl McCall, former New York State Comptroller, said. A recession in the 1990’s was responsible for the state’s and county’s initial decrease in financial support—becoming the core reason for the elevated costs for students. “This provision has been suspended by language in budget bill since 1991- initially under emergency circumstances during a recession—but continuing today despite economic improvement,” McCall, said in a report released in 1999.
“Additionally, under legislation passed in the 1970’s, state support was to have been increased to 40 percent of operating costs for community colleges that provided open admissions. All community colleges have met these requirements. If state support today was at the full 40 percent promised…annual tuition would be $100’s below current levels,” McCall said. Current tuition would be drastically lowered if the proper support were given from the state and county. However, students have exceeded their one-third share for decades because the county and state have failed to keep their commitments.
“Funding for a full opportunity institution is 40 percent State, if appropriations are available and 26.7 percent for the County sponsor. The current breakdown of revenue is State share 22.6%; County 23.5 percent and student 50.1 percent. Neither the State nor County are at the statutory designation, in part because of the scarcity of resources, and by reason of competition for those limited resources,” Mary Lou Araneo, vice president for institutional Advancement, said. Araneo explained the current amount covered by each unit and noted that the county and state’s broken statue go without penalty because of a shortage of resources.
“There are areas of the operating budget where expenditures increased,” Araneo, said. She provided a list of factors that contributed to the overhead increase. “Cost of living increase for employees, health insurance benefits, retirement plans…opening of new facilities such as the William J. Lindsay Life Sciences building in 2014-2015 and the learning resource center at Michael J. Grant campus by spring of 2017.”
Suffolk is the largest community college in New York where approximately 27,000 students attend.
“In 2014-2015, tuition at Suffolk County Community College was the fifth highest of the 30 community colleges in New York… tuition at Suffolk County Community College has increased by an average of 3.9 percent annually from 2010-2011 to 2014-2015, which is higher than the statewide average of 3.7 percent,” according to the Suffolk County Legislature budget review report. A National Center for Education Statistics Report shows the national average tuition for a two-year college at $3,322, while Suffolk’s average is $4,390. Not only are students responsible for more than their fair share—they’re rates are increasing faster than the national and state-wide averages.
“If the cost of college tuition was $10,000 in 1986 it would now cost the same student over $21, 500… but instead education is $59, 800 or over 2 ½ times the inflation rate,” according to Gordon Wadsworth, author of The College Trap. The cost of college is spiraling out of control, exceeding the rate of inflation, and students are carrying the burden.
“The County contribution was increased only once from 2008-2009 to 2013-2014. In an effort to be sensitive to the County’s fiscal challenge, the college requested no increase in college contribution for 2012-2013,” according to Suffolk County Legislative budget report. Special efforts were undergone to relieve the County’s fiscal challenges—meanwhile students suffer the consequences. The college tuition rate for all students are determined by college President, Shaun L. McKay’s recommendation and the Board of Trustee’s approval. However, the County is responsible for approving all of the college’s building plans. This may affect how the County’s needs are prioritized above the population it’s here to serve.
Suffolk’s reserve fund exceeds $25 million, although some of the funds are used to help balance the budget, it has come short of providing relief to the student population. President McKay and the Board of Trustees continue to approve budget plans which are increasing at an alarming rate. While little initiative has been taken to lighten the fiscal burden of students, some staff members are gaining wealth. President McKay’s administrative team is growing rapidly, as full-time teacher positions are drastically cut. According to the 2014-2015 exempt salary schedule, members of the president’s office are paid from a range of $85 – $250 thousand annually. “Suffolk County Community College paid $118 million in 2014 to 3,995 employees filling 5,803 positions…the information, which is public record, was received from the college in response to a Freedom of Information Law request,” according to a 2015 Newsday post. McKay’s annual compensation is above $300 thousand. In order to alleviate the financial burden placed on students, the college has to apply advanced fiscal management skills. In addition, the President, Board of Trustees, and students have to demand that the County and State uphold their financial commitments according to New York’s Education Law.
By Isabelle Desilier
Starting the Fall Semester of 2015, a new fee mandatory fee has been added to student’s bill. A meal plan fee of $100 in which students had no say, or ability to remove unless it was for religious purposes.
After catching a little heat for not providing a meal plan in April 2013 by Campus Reporter Journalist Neal Falcone, SCCC made it a point to get one in order. In 2015, that plan was put into action. Students will are now paying $200 a year, $100 per semester of mandatory meal plan money that over ⅓ of students are not even using. Last semester, 1 in every 3 people had no idea that they were paying the new fee until they received a phone call toward the end of the fall semester informing them that if they do not use the meal plan money and are planning to transfer out for the spring 2016 semester, their $100 will disappear. However, should they be re-enrolled for the spring semester, it would be rolled over as well, but any leftover money will not be transferable onto the upcoming fall semester.
While many students appreciate the effort on part of the SCCC administration, they are furious with their lack of voice. “It’s not fair, you know? I mean, I’d be more open to it if I could opt out of it or, like, use it for different stuff- like text books at the bookstore, club activities, or something!” Casey Smith, current SCCC student Liberal Arts major, said.
This is the thought of many students. It is not the act the added fee, nor the idea of the meal plan, but the fact that the students, who already pay 54% over the agreed upon 33% for the continuation of the college as per stated in the NY Charter for Public Education in which students, the county and the state each pay ⅓ of total school costs. Students are now paying over half of the costs, and 21% more than agreed. To add insult to injury, student tuition has risen $180 more this past semester as well. So now, not only are students paying an extra $200 for a meal plan they cannot option out off without going through strenuous effort to fill out a form that states that they either have religious, medical or financial reasons as to not pay for the meal plan, they are also paying a $360 in the tuition itself.
“What they don’t realize is that while we may be able to pay for the tuition here- either through FAFSA or our own money- it doesn’t necessarily mean we have the means to afford that $100. For all they know, we are barely making ends meet as is.” Alyssa Riegel, Arts major, said. “At the very least, we should be able to say, ‘No we can’t afford this or we simply don’t want to eat what you provide.”
“It’s messed up. Why are we paying so much and having so little say? I mean, at least give us that money back!” Abigail Vilela, former SCCC student said.
The idea of students actually getting their money back at the end of the school year has in fact been murmured about, however, there is no definitive proof that this will occur. The rumor claims that after graduation or the end of the current school year, students will receive a check, much like the check they receive during the semester from FAFSA for money not used for tuition. They would receive said check in the mail with the amount of money not used in the meal plan. It is also rumored that the administration is considering for the next semester the “opt in or out” option for the meal plan fee with far less trouble and regulations.
Again, none of these two rumors have been confirmed. However, the belief still remains. SCCC did a disservice to its students despite its well intentions and instead of putting students at ease, it caused them more stress- especially those students who are paying out of pocket.
“The cost of obtaining a higher education is already too high for many students and their families. It is frustrating that rather than working to make education more affordable, Suffolk County Community College has increased tuition for full-time students by $180 and will now require a $200 mandatory meal plan fee for 12,000 students on select campuses…” Assemblyman Michael Montesano said, as the Long Island Exchange. We await the change.
By Lamia Choudhury
The end of the semester is just around the corner and students at Suffolk are fully aware. Although the end of the Spring semester usually brings nicer weather, flip flops and lazy days at the beach, students must get through one important test of their patience: finals week. No matter where one attends school, students often find themselves testing their body’s limits during finals. Often times, libraries located on school campuses will extend their hours and some, like nearby Stony Brook University, will even keep their doors open around the clock. Although it is important to do well in school and pass finals examinations, it is still important to take care of your body and mind.
Students at SCCC host multiple events to boost student morale at the end of the semester. The campus carnival is one that many students enjoy. “I’ve got to go study but I got a free churro today and that was definitely a nice surprise,” said sophomore, Falah Jalali at the campus carnival.
The carnival also hosted a magic show and offered students cotton candy and the chance to play classic carnival games.
“This semester’s been rough,” said Justin DiBennardo, another sophomore at SCCC, “I’m trying to make sure I sleep this finals week because I usually don’t. This time, I took some extra time off of work to study and make sure I have time to breathe.”
That is an important piece of advice for students juggling work and school. School should take priority although often times it is difficult to remember. If possible, plan ahead and take days off at work before and during final exams to study and ensure you’re not burning out your body. Try to review a little bit of the curriculum throughout the semester to avoid having to cram at the end of it.
Eating right is another important piece of the puzzle. As a college student, it’s easy to look to pizza and energy drinks to get by but in the end, these choices have consequences. “I’m trying to stay away from Red Bull,” said Faiza Ahmed, a sophomore, “They make my heart race and in the end, I usually worry more about that than studying because it scares me so much.”
Energy drinks should be a last resort to stay awake. Although many of them are affective in ensuring you stays awake, they have some serious long term consequences. It is not uncommon to develop heart complications from consuming too much caffeine. Foods like avocados and oatmeal are easily accessible to college students, easy to prepare and will release bursts of energy throughout the day to keep the body going. Try to remember to eat breakfast because although we’ve heard it 1000 times before, it really is the most important meal of the day.
Although it is tempting to pull all- nighters during finals week, try to get at least six hours of sleep the night before any exams to avoid crashing on the actual test paper itself. Good luck to everyone taking finals. Study hard but make sure to care of yourself and your friends. Grades are important but so are you.
The countdown begins
By Lamia Choudhury
The Hogwarts Club’s Ostara Ball was a huge success! Students from across all three campuses were present at the event and their responses were all positive. After the dedicated members of the Hogwarts Club spent all day setting up and decorating at the Eaton’s Neck Room located in the Babylon Student Center on the Ammerman Campus, the event started at promptly 6 o’clock. Attendees were encouraged to dress in a formal fashion and it appeared as though most of the guests received that memo. Regardless of how they were dressed, from ball gowns, to dress pants and to jeans, every guest left the event satisfied. Not one complaint was heard through the whole night.
Erin Ginley, the club’s treasurer said, “Everyone had a good time and you could really tell. The entire atmosphere is so positive. It really makes you feel like you belong.”
The members of the Hogwarts Club were only expecting about 40 people to show up at most but were pleasantly surprised to find that the guest count was nearly double what they had previously anticipated.
“People have been coming in and out all night,” said Kaitlyn Noss, the Hogwarts Club’s vice president, “I’d say there were about 70 people here tonight. We ran out of food probably about two hours into the whole thing. That’s pretty cool to know.”
“I really can’t believe how many people came,” said Rachel Day, one of the club’s most dedicated members, “it’s truly amazing. I’m really proud of how it turned out. We worked really hard on this and it looks like people really appreciate it.”
Attendees of the ball could be found chatting, eating, dancing and partaking in Harry Potter related trivia games. A photo booth was set up and students could take pictures of themselves wearing the Sorting Hat that was provided by one of the members of the club. Four large, round tables were set up for students attending the ball and decorated to represent the four houses of Hogwarts: green tablecloths and silver tinsel for Slytherin, red tablecloths and gold tinsel for Gryffindor, yellow tablecloths and black streamers for Hufflepuff and blue tablecloths and bronze confetti for Ravenclaw. Students were encouraged to sit with members of their respective houses but were obviously not bound to them like the students at Hogwarts were.
The members of the Hogwarts Club had invested large amounts of time and effort into the event and could finally relax at the ball. “If there’s anything I learned from this event, it’s that we need to start planning things better and earlier,” said Smeea Sajid, another one of the club’s dedicated and devoted members, “Obviously, everything turned out great and we’re all happy about that, but for the next ball, we’re going to run things on a stricter schedule. Some of us didn’t have our final ideas and contributions in until yesterday!”
The members of the Hogwarts Club shouldn’t be so hard on themselves for procrastinating a bit. That’s just being a college student though isn’t it?
By Lamia Choudhury
The Hogwarts Club at the Ammerman campus is an active one. Although, there are less than 10 full- time members, those who attend the club meetings help in organizing bake sales, movie nights and their most popular event, the Yule Ball. The Yule Ball is scheduled in December during the end of the Fall semester every year. This year in particular, the students operating the Hogwarts Club decided to plan a similar event for the Spring semester. Scheduled for April 28th, the Ostara Ball, named after the Spring Equinox, can be considered a creative way for students to de-stress and have a little fun right before taking those dreaded final exams. The members of the Hogwarts Club plan to make this Spring ball more formal than the Yule Ball usually is. Nicolette Gerbi says, “It’s going to be formal. We want it to be dressy.” Attendees of the ball are encouraged to wear attire fit for a sweet 16 or prom and Hogwarts robes are acceptable as well. The ball will be in the Eaton Neck Room located in the Babylon Student Center and will run from 6 P.M to 11 P.M. Erin Ginley, the club’s treasurer says, “We expect about 40 people.”
Members of the Hogwarts Club are also planning a movie night hoping to marathon all eight films; a total of over 19 hours! The members are in search of a student’s house where they can watch the movies together. If one cannot be found, they will choose just one movie to watch on campus.
The members of Hogwarts Club have big plans for the future. Kaitlyn Noss, the vice president of the club says, “We want to raise more money through bake sales so we can plan more events for the semester.” During bake sales, club members are assigned various baked goods they are each responsible to bring.
Noss has been a member of the club for two semesters and considers herself a proud Hufflepuff. Other members of the club have been sorted as well on Pottermore, the interactive website for Harry Potter fans all over the world, run by J.K. Rowling. Pottermore allows super- fans a behind the scenes look at the wizarding world and allows them the chance to be students at Hogwarts, get their own wands and read in- depth backstories about the characters in the series. Kavi Muneshwar, a freshman at SCCC was sorted into Ravenclaw. “Panda (the nickname of the club’s president) told me to join. I’m not a hardcore fan but this club is really inclusive,” he says.
Hulya Ozdemir, a new member of the club also believes the club is inclusive, saying the club welcomed her with open arms. “This club is amazing!” she says.
The Hogwarts Club offers members a safe and open environment to voice their opinion concerning all things Harry Potter related. For those who are interested, the Hogwarts Club meets in room 118 located on the main floor of the Southampton Building during common hour every Wednesday.
By Paige Cornicelli
The college hosted Talk Among Survivors on Wednesday, April 20th. The event was hosted by Steve Klipstien and Jill Santiago, and Holocaust survivors Ruth Minsky Sender, Mordechai Miller, Annie Bleiberg and Hannah Robinson.
The Holocaust was the systematic murder of millions of Jews. German Jews and Jews from the surrounding countries were persecuted because of that simple fact, they were Jews. Adolf Hitler and his Schutzstaffel, SS for short, systematically, horribly and unjustly murdered over 6 million men women and children because of their religion.
Ruth Minsky Sender told us her story in a way that made us all want to listen. She told us of how her siblings fled from Poland to Russia, with her, her mom, and her younger siblings forced to stay. She was eventually sent to Auschwitz and then separated from her family. She survived, married, and had a family, eventually moving to the United States where she became a published author.
Mordechai Miller survived the Holocaust by hiding. He spent his time hiding in the woods, eventually fleeing. His family would run from place to place. Trying to avoid incitement of the SS and life in the concentration camps. He now is a public speaker on his time running, educating people on his time trying to survive.
Annie Bleiberg had an interesting story. Her and her family were removed from their homes and shoved into cattle cars to be transported to a camp. Her and her father managed to escape after wedging open a latch on top of the car. She was second in line to go, first of the females when a man sent her first. “He was scared, afraid or something. He did not want to jump. But I must follow my father.” She was eventually captured after leaving the home of a Polish Family she was hiding out at and sent to a camp. She now has a family and is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Hannah Robinson was separated from her family when she was younger, before the Holocaust started. She and her brother were sent to Britain to escape the persecution of the Jewish Children.
The event itself turned out to be a success. There was a high school visiting, along with students from the school and visitors from outside of the Suffolk County Community College circle. There were ten volunteers including student Kevin Perlow.
“The event had a great turnout. There was a lot of people and the stories were really interesting.” Said Perlow. He continued on to explain his feelings about the event. “The stories were moving, it was a way for us to learn their stories on a personal level.”
At the end of the event, there was a few minutes for questions and one question was asked that got a large reaction. The question was asking “Do any of you have resentment towards Hitler and his men or can you forgive him for what he did to you and your families?”
Ruth Minsky was firm in her answer. “I will never forgive Hitler. He tried to wipe us out and he knew what he was doing. He knew.” There was an agreement across the board, from all of the survivors, both professors and the entire audience.
Mordechai Miller had the last word of the event with advice to the students and people visiting “Don’t hate. Hate is a disease. Hate kills you and it kills other people.”
This event is offered every spring semester, at the end of the semester. It is held common hour, Wednesday from 11:00-12:15 pm in the Shea Theater.
By Isabelle Desilier
Yoga is hard. The sport itself looks easy, simple and “something for women”. However, that is nowhere near the case. Yoga is hard work and takes a lot out of someone. It stretches your body and forces it to bend to your will. It forces the person to exercise their will and determination as well as self-motivation. Yoga makes the person work not only on themselves physically but also mentally. It is a sport, even without its Olympics or competitions.
“Yoga is as mentally straining and physically exhausting. It is as hard as any sport and takes just as much of a toll. Saying yoga is not a sport because it doesn’t involve nationwide competitions is ridiculous.” Edwin Cedieno, current Liberal Arts student at the Grant campus and avid yoga practitioner said.
Many people do not refer to yoga as a sport despite the physical strain that is equal to football without the mental trauma and dangers. While, yes, to many people yoga is not considered a sport, Yoga competitors have a different opinion.
“Yoga is primarily for mental stability and, who know, a calm sport where there is not really supposed to be any pressure to do the upward dog perfectly- but for real yoga practitioners or, actually no- for those of us in yoga who actually like the thrill of a competition- there are actual nationwide, although not very well known, competitions done. And the U.S. is not the only country to do it. It’s not the even the first. India’s been doing it for years.” Said Hasnaa Elkhouly, graduate of SCCC and part-time yoga instructor at the Planet Fitness Gym in Brentwood and Patchogue during the weekends. Elkhouly is an Egyptian born, American citizen who has had family practice yoga in the comfort of their home as well as watch the competitions live streamed on Arab Television via the internet.
India has held yoga competitions under various names for thousands of years. Yoga studies have actually shown yoga to have been present long before any competitions were erected. They also show that the Southeast Asians (Indians) have not been the first to actually practice yoga, but were the ones to “perfect the art”.
“Even though they are competitions, no one wants another to fall. They just want them to do their best. It is a competition, where ironically, everyone wins.” Elkholy states.
Some do not agree with that sentiment, but many would agree that yoga is an amazing and very real sport- for both men and women.
“One of the stigmas of yoga is that it’s a ‘women’s activity’ or some other nonsense and that men can’t be a part of it. That if any man did yoga- they’d be ‘sissies’ or gay and ‘twinks’. That is not true- many professional athletes out there, especially in football, take yoga during their off seasons to keep themselves limber and loose as well as in shape for the upcoming seasons. It helps them stay on their game and there nothing ‘sissy-like’ about yoga. It’s a sport with no gender just like every sport should be.” Anthony Cada, future SCCC freshman, Engineering major with a Music minor, both on the Grant and Ammerman campus. Cada is also a U.S. Marine on temporary medical discharge.
That Yoga is a women’s sport is as common a misconception as the stigma that cheer leading is a women only sport. That misconception can be cleared away as soon as you step into the 11-12:30 Intramural course every Wednesday at the Brookhaven building during common hour. It’s free and anyone can join. To end a stigma, you much fight it.
To some fashion is nothing to be concerned about but to others, fashion is an extension of oneself. Those who are unconcerned with fashion generally don’t care what they put on their bodies whereas those who do care, spend a considerable amount of time planning a specific outfit.
Believe it or not, there is a science in the way one dresses. From the color schemes to the fit of the clothing, what you where can tell a lot about the person in the clothing. In some scenarios, the outfit you wear could influence the way someone may approach or think of you. Job interviews and dates are perfect examples of this theory. This article breaks down the dos and don’ts of what to wear in different scenarios.
Job interviews are rather tricky. Here it’s only what you wear, although that is a contributing factor, but it’s also about your diction, the air of confidence you give off, and your resumé. Fashion might not better your diction or your resumé but it can certainly give someone confidence. Studies show, that an enriching, deep blue suit is perfect for a job interview. Other colors like black, grey, and or brown are might consider wearing to an interview also. It is imperative, that you stay away from any loud colors in both your clothes and shoes.
According to an article written on businessinsider.com, the color black is borders the line of what to wear and what not to wear to a job interview. In some cases, people who wear black an be aloof or reserved but, depending on how you wear it, it can exemplify sophistication and class. Too much black can become a problem. A fitted black suit from either Joseph A. Bank or Calvin Klein with either a warm brown or white dress shirt will fit the occasion perfectly. Your shoes should coordinate in color with your suit and it is pointed-toe is preferred over a less casual squared-toe. The tie should also coordinate in color with the shoes and the suit.
Deep navy blue, is easily the safest and best color to choose when preparing for a job interview. Unlike black, blue cannot be mistaken as an unapproachable color. A more highlighted and brighter blue is dangerous in that it’s too loud and distracting in an interview. Darker blues and navy blues are perfect. The color emanates trust and confidence along with sophistication and class. It does everything a properly executed black does but more. For the dress shirt again, brown and white are ideal. With a fitted blue suit you a have a bit more flexibility in the shoe department. Where a black suit and black shoes is considered acceptable and normal, you have another option with a blue suit. Brown shoes compliment a blue suit naturally and so for a blue suit it is preferred over the black dress shoe. Again, the pointed-toe is preferred over the squared-toe.
The same rules hold true for a formal date, granted you might not wear a suit, but, the color schemes are instrumental.
By Dan Howlin
Students across the country, at both community colleges and four year universities need to be more involved. For students at a community college, getting involved with a club or organization can be tough. Community college students are often stuck in the never ending cycle of school, work and homework. Some students feel they don’t have the time, and some think joining a club is “corny” or “stupid” and just want to go to school, and leave as soon as possible. In reality, it’s not as time consuming as people think and can actually have a positive impact on students.
More students need to participate within the school. Joining a club or organization gives students a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, being involved also helps students academically and for the future.
In studies done by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) they found that students who join clubs get better grades than those who don’t participate. Participation and grades have a direct correlation. When a student is involved at the school, they feel more motivated to do well. Joining a club or organization also motivates students outside the classroom. Students who are a part of something are also more likely to be organized and knowledgeable when it comes to their future.
One major problem concerning students and participation is students feel nervous or shy about joining a club. They feel they won’t be welcomed and won’t fit in because “everyone knows each other already.” In reality it’s the exact opposite, clubs are constantly looking for new members and would probably be ecstatic seeing a new face walk through the door at one of their meetings. Not only does joining a club help in the way of making friends, it also allows students to make connections and contacts. Interacting with students that have common career goals can open countless doors. By joining a club or organization students are getting their name out there.
Joining a club can also give students a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Seeing a group of people work hard to accomplish something often brings people closer together. This is why joining a club that actually works toward and produces something, such as a publication or community service club are often the most rewarding clubs to join. Students get a sense of fulfillment that they wouldn’t get by just hanging out in the library or cafeteria. Students feel they won’t fit in when they join a club but in reality, joining a club is the best way to make friends at a community college, because when students join a club, they share interests and have a lot in common with those around them.
Students have a million different reasons for not joining a club, saying things like “I won’t fit in” “It’s too time consuming”, “I don’t like the way the run things” but the excuses must stop. You will get nowhere in life by making excuses. The best way to get involved is to actually go to a meeting, don’t just go but what you hear. It’s easy to make assumptions from the outside, you’ll never know until you try it.
There are many solutions to the problem of students not participating on campus. One idea is giving students who participate some kind of internship credit. If a student’s joins something like a publication or a community service club there should be options to earn something like internship credits or money off their tuition, but only if they truly participate. Another way to help with the problem is raising awareness. Schools can raise awareness for their clubs by having club representatives at things like open houses and orientations. Clubs could also set up certain times to go into things like freshman seminar classes.
As Kobe prepares for the final game of his twentieth year career, we remember the superstar at eighteen, fresh out of high school, waiting for his name to be announced by then commissioner, David Stern. Picked by the Charlotte Hornets and later traded to the Los Angeles, young Bryant would make a name for himself and earn the respect of former players and players to come. Whether it was hitting a fade away three point buzzer beater over Dwayne Wade, or throwing a lob to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, Kobe Bryant has left us with interminable memories; etched in our minds forever.
In six months, Bryant went from being a high school phenom to an NBA rookie. It would be an adjustment for the rookie playing around twenty games in the high school regular season to playing 71 arduous games as a rookie. Bryant averaged only 7.6 points per game during the regular season but was hampered by lack of playing time. Every year after that, Kobe’s minutes went up incessantly but during the 1998-99 season “Frobe” Bryant had finally locked down the starting shooting guard position. The following year he won his first NBA title alongside Shaquille O’Neal, the most dominant big man the game has ever seen. Kobe’s impressive offensive capabilities alongside Shaq’s overpowering low post presence, the two were unstoppable, and they went on to win two more championships in 2001 and 2002.
After Shaq left for Miami there seemed to be a production lull in Los Angeles never making it passed the first round of the playoffs until 2008. During that six year span, Kobe came into his own and took on the challenge of being the team leader adopting certain techniques from Michael Jordan. At the time it seemed to be working, the Lakers were winning. In an interview with Ahmad Rashad, Bryant spoke on leadership, “If you’re going to be a leader, you’re not going to please everybody.” “You want them to be the best versions of them themselves a leader has to drive for that.”
Perhaps Kobe’s most memorable and iconic performance was Kobe’s 81 performance against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. In that game the Los Angeles Lakers won 122-104. Amazing isn’t it? Kobe scored more than half of his team’s points. The second leading scorer that game was Smush Parker, who only scored 13 points. After the impressive showing, Kobe still remains second, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points, in single game scoring leaders. In an interview with ESPN Kobe says, “I really didn’t know what happened until I walked off the court and heard the number.”
In another interview Bryant talked to Arash Markazi of ESPN reflecting on the 81 point game, “I should have had 90 points or more. I missed two free throws after making 62 straight. I had some really open looks that I missed. I think 100 is possible. I absolutely do. If I hadn’t sat out those six minutes in the first half, maybe I would’ve had it.” Shows what a fierce competitor Kobe is.
Since Bryant’s retirement announcement, the NBA has acknowledged the moment. Kobe’s most memorable games have aired on NBAtv and after every game, he receives a standing ovation regardless of the arena. Players aren’t bashful about sharing their favorite Kobe Bryant moment, whether it was playing against them or watching as fans.
It’s another side of Kobe that we’ve never really gotten a chance to see, or softer more embracing side, similar to Michael Jordan’s final seasons. There’s no doubt that Kobe’s fiery competiveness still burns within him but, he seems more at peace, friendly even. Professional athletes, not just basketball players, have paid their respects to the Black Mamba. According to ESPN, Bryant finds himself bringing extra sneakers because players are requesting an autograph pair. Popular athletes like Paul George, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, even Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald received a pair of autographed sneakers. When asked what the requirements were for an autograph during a postgame interview, Kobe answered, “generally guys that got the cojones to ask, I give it to them. I’ve got plenty of them back there, so I’m not going to run out, so it’s all good.”
It’s crazy to think that come next fall, after twenty seasons, the number 24 jersey for the Los Angeles Laker will not be on the floor… for good. There is no doubt that the league will miss him greatly and there is no doubt that he too will miss the game. But the star can leave in peace knowing that the game he’s leaving in good and talented hands.