Kobe Bryant. What an incredible career he had with the Los Angeles Lakers as well as USA Basketball. His will to win every single game he played, made him one of the most tenacious basketball players to hit the hardwood.
It won’t be easy to narrow down just 5 of his greatest moments on the basketball court, but we will give it a shot!
Greatest Moment No. 5:
81 Point Game. Poor Jalen Rose still has nightmares of this night at Staples Center.
Kobe played close to 42 minutes on the night, shooting 28-46 (7-13 from deep) and 18-20 at the line. He was truly something else that night.
It was one of the greatest performances in NBA History, and one that’ll be tough to knock off from 2nd spot on the all-time list (given he trails the great Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 in a game).
Greatest Moment No. 4:
2007-08 Kobe Bryant was named the NBA MVP. Incredibly, he was only named MVP once in his career (high way robbery).
Kobe led his team to the 2008 NBA Finals that season, as well as leading them to the number 1 seed in the West. He went on the average 28.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 5.4 APG.
Even though Kobe was named MVP in 2007-08, there was no doubt he was robbed on multiple occasions for the award.
In 2005-06, Kobe went on to average 35.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.5 APG. In a league that’s fairly stat driven, it’s hard to argue against those numbers being worthy enough for the MVP. Steve Nash, who was awarded MVP that season, went on to average 18.8 PPG and 10.5 APG. Kobe also scored his 81 points in a game that season (previously covered in Point 5).
The Following season, Kobe made another case for MVP, only to be pipped by Dirk. He went on to average 31.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 5.4 APG. He led the league again in scoring that season and was also given All-Defensive 1st team honours (showing he could do it at both ends of the floor once again).
Dirk went on to average 24.6 PPG and 8.9 RPG. Dallas did finish 1st out west, only to be bounced by the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors.
Greatest Moment No. 3:
The Redeem Team in 2008 was a team that had a point to prove, given Team USA’s poor performances at the previous Olympics and world championship.
Coming off an MVP season, Kobe’s 2008 year was not going to be complete until he could put USA Basketball back to where it belongs.
Kobe made sure to bring some buddies along with him, with the likes of LeBron, Carmelo, D Wade, and Chris Paul helping bring the Gold back to USA Basketball.
Bryant made sure this wasn’t just a one-off, so the band came back together again for one more run at it in 2012, once again coming home with the Gold in London to go down as one of the greatest USA Basketball rosters put together.
Greatest Moment No.2:
Some would argue this should be his greatest moment, but for now, this is staying at 2.
Kobe and Shaq (arguably the most dominant duo in NBA History), pulled off an incredible 3 peat (2000, 2001, 2002), to stamp their legacy in basketball folklore.
This was a dominant 3 peat. The first year was tough, having to overcome a very talented Indiana Pacers line up (that had been through the Jordan era).
Before meeting Indiana in the NBA Finals, a play that is still replayed over and over took place that may as well have sent shock waves through downtown LA.
Portland led by 15 in the last Qtr in Game 7, only for the Lakers to rally late, with a Kobe lob to Shaq to finish with a ferocious slam, sending Staples into euphoria, and into the NBA Finals against Indiana.
Year 2 started shaky, with Allen Iverson and the Sixers stealing Game 1, only for the Lakers to go on and finish them off in 5.
Year 3 was never in doubt, with the Lakers sweeping a loaded New Jersey Nets line up.
It’s hard to imagine that they only went on to win 3 titles together. The feud that unfortunately took place between Kobe and Shaq drove a wedge between the team.
They went on to make the NBA Finals for one more run at it, only to get destroyed by the Pistons in 2004. And with that, the dynasty was over.
Greatest Moment No. 1:
Back to Back Championships v Orlando and finally his 5th against the Celtics, cemented a legacy like no other.
A one-club man, winning his 5th title against historically the Laker's biggest rival, was almost Hollywood scripted. Like the way, it was just meant to finish up.
Kobe will go down as the greatest Laker of all time (you could argue Magic, but even the man himself has given that title to Kobe), spending his entire 20-year career bleeding purple and gold.
The image of Kobe standing up on the scorer’s bench, letting everyone know that was his 5th Championship, and one away from his idol Michael Jordan.
The trade for Pau Gasol gave Kobe a brilliant sidekick to help him along the way, defeating a young Dwight Howard led Orlando Magic for his 4th Championship in 5 games, and the Celtics in an absolute grind in 7 games.
Given the point of his career and what he had overcome after the Shaq ordeal, this was his greatest moment. Especially for all those who said he couldn’t be “the guy”, that his ego was just too big. He showed them!
What’s your favourite Kobe Moment?