Late great Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball who never cheated the game, gave his 100% night in and night out, one of the most competitive, fearless players. The Black Mamba was a 5-time champion, 2-time Finals MVP, one-time MVP winner, 15 times all NBA team, 12 times all NBA defence, the youngest to win the dunk contest, and many more. Today, we take a look at the top 5 moments in his 20 years long career
5) GETTING DRAFTED
In every player’s life getting drafted by the NBA has always been their dream. Kobe was one of the youngest players to ever enter the NBA at the age of 18 years and 72 days. He was at first drafted by the Charlotte Hornets its No. 13 draft pick, and immediately traded him to Los Angeles for Vlade Divac.
Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall by Hornets in 1996 before Lakers acquired his draft rights. #MambaMoments pic.twitter.com/jumJNsiJPT
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 12, 2016
4) 81 points against the Raptors
Kobe was a relentless scorer. He is one of the most skilled players the NBA has ever seen, he had the mid-range game, could shoot the ball from the arc, post moves with such great movement, had dozens of layups and dunk packages, a career 83.7% free throw shooter. He had no weakness on the offensive end. It was 26th January 2006, Kobe just a month before had scored 62 points against the Mavericks, 7th rank defence team at the time, and literally outscored them in 3 quarters 62 to 61 and didn’t even play in the 4th quarter, he scored 81 points against Raptors making it the 2nd highest score to ever scored by an individual 2nd to Wilt’s 100 point game. He broke the Lakers all-time scoring record of 71 by the great Elgin Baylor.
Kobe took only 46 shots and converted 28 of them, he was 7/13 from the 3 point line and shot 18/20 from the free-throw line
3) 2007-08 MVP season
Most valuable player of the NBA is a feat only 35 players have achieved in the NBA and Kobe is one of them. After all the efforts in the 2005-06 season where Kobe averaged 35.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and then go on to average another 31.6 points per game, many fans believe that he was snubbed of the MVP, but finally, in 2007-08 Kobe’s Lakers was the number 1 seed in the western conference with the record of 57-25, he averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists shooting 46% from the field, 36% from beyond the arc and 84.8% from the free-throw line but the season had a bitter ending as Lakers lost in NBA finals to the Celtics in 6 games.
2) BRINGING HOME 2 GOLD MEDALS
The USA team had won three consecutive gold medals before the 2004 Olympics where they came 3rd and won the bronze medal but 2008 was different, even though Kobe was not part of the 2004 Olympics men’s basketball team, he was prepared and determined to be the part of the redemption and thus formed the Redeem team. Kobe was on a mission, he was the soul and leader of the team, in the gold medal game Kobe came up clutch, he iced the game at the 3rd-minute mark by scoring a 3 pointer with a foul. Team USA then went on to redeem the 2004 loss and won the gold medal with Kobe leading the charge. In 2012, Kobe was a veteran in the squad at the age of 36, he took a back seat against rising stars like Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
1) 2010 CHAMPIONSHIP WIN AGAINST BOSTON CELTICS
Lakers and Celtics have been the two biggest franchises of the NBA, and they are the biggest rivals too, Lakers vs Celtic rivalry dates back from the 1980s to now, both franchises have equal numbers of championships (18). This to me was the greatest moment of Kobe’s life, he won his 5th and last championship against their main rivals, the Celtics. In 2008 Kobe had lost to the Celtics newly formed big 3, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen in 6 games. 2010 finals in Kobe’s words
“This one is by far the sweetest because it’s them,”
“This was the hardest one by far. I wanted it so bad, and sometimes when you want it so bad, it slips away from you. My guys picked me up.”
It was one of the most thrilling finals with a game 7. LA Lakers were down 3-2 in the series, in crucial games 6 and 7 Kobe scored 26 points and 23 points to lead his team and were named the NBA finals 2010 winners.
Kobe averaged 28.9 points per game to go along with 8 rebounds and 3.9 assists with 2.1 steals. His sh00ting splits were 40% from the field, 31.9% from behind the arc, and 88.3% from the free-throw line which was enough for him to win his 2nd Finals MVP and his last and 5th title.