15 of Kobe Bryant’s Greatest Career Moments
Kobe Bryant is debated to be the best player in the NBA. It’s a debate that’s been going on for years pitting him against Michael Jordan. Whatever your feelings toward Kobe, no one can deny he is a high impact player. The NBA would not be the same without Kobe. His prescision and quick movement on the court has brought many teams to their knees. That is the reason why he has earned the nickname Black Mamba after the deadly snake. He has suffered a shoulder injury that may keep him on the sideline for he rest of the season. There is talk about his retirement after his contract is up in 2016, so let’s go back and remember some of Kobe’s greatest career moments.
First Career Start On January 28, 1997 Kobe Bryant had his first career start for the LA Lakers. He was only 18 years old and became the youngest player to start in a NBA game. He only scored 12 points that game but that helped the Lakers win the game. Kobe’s first start came after 34 games in to the season, he spent most of his time on the bench on the bench. This was the beginning of one of the greatest NBA careers.
Kobe Scores 33 points on Jordan In December of the 1997 season, the match up that everyone was talking about and what basketball fanatics still talk about happened. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan met face to face on the court. The Bulls won by 21 points and Jordan had 36 points to his name, but the real surprise was that Kobe Bryant was only three points shy of Jordan ending the game with 33 points. This is when everyone realized that there was a new king of hoops on the rise.
First All-Star Game A year after his first start Kobe was voted into his first all-star game. Kobe was the second most voted guard in the Western Conference. The fans voted him in as a starter, even though he was still spending a significant amount of time on the bench with the Lakers. Kobe finished the all-star game as the second leading scorer with 18 point. If the West would have won that year, Kobe was in line to receive the MVP honor.
The 3-peat It’s hard enough to win one championship, but to win three in a row is unreal. Well, for everyone who isn’t Kobe Bryant it’s unreal. In the 2000, 2001, and 2002 Kobe led the Lakers to championship titles. Phil Jackson was the coach for all three appearances in the Finals. During this time the Lakers had solidified that they were the best team not only in the West but in the NBA.
Kobe Dunks on Ben Wallace While playing the Washington Wizards, Kobe Bryant put some life into the game by monster dunking on Ben Wallace. Immediately after the dunk the entire stadium erupted. It was a brutal display of athleticism that haunts Ben Wallace to this day. Wallace admits “Without that dunk, I don’t know if I would be the player that I am today. Kobe was not partial as to who could be on the receiving end of a dunk. Anyone could be embarrassed.
Kobe Sets record with 12 threes in a game In a game in January of the 2003 season against the then Seattle SuperSonics, Kobe set the record of the most three-pointers made in a single game. The Black Mamba hit 12 three-pointers that game making 10 of them back-to-back, which is also a record. This rain of threes didn’t begin until the second quarter after he missed his first three, 3 point attempts.
30 points in the 3rd quarter In a game against the 2006 Utah Jazz, Kobe put himself on the map as one of the best scorers in the league. Many players have scored 30 points in a game, some can do it in a half, but few can say they did it in a quarter. Kobe is apart of that few. He finished the game with 52 points all together helping the Lakers win 132-102.
First all-star MVP award Kobe Bryant returned to the NBA all-star game in 2002 after a dominating regular season. All-star weekend was in Philly that year, the same place Kobe destroyed the 76ers’ dream of the Finals. Kobe played with the best players that the NBA offered and came out on top with 31 points, 5 rebounds, five assists, and as the game’s MVP. Of course the Philly natives didn’t like him that much during that time, even thought that’s his home town.
Clutch Playoff Win In the first round of playoffs in the 2006 season the Lakers played the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers led the series 2-1 but game 4 looked as if the Suns would prevail. Then Kobe put on his cape and saved the day. On an inbounds steal, Kobe made a layup to tie the game and send it into OT. Later, Kobe hit the game winning jumper, showing that its not always about how many points you score, but when you score them.
1997 Slam Dunk Champ If people didn’t believe Kobe was a high flyer, they began to believe in 1997. Kobe was a contestant in the ’97 dunk contest. He amazed the crowd with his rendition of Isaiah Rider’s classic between the legs dunk. He became the youngest player in history to win the slam dunk contest. His elevation skills became legendary from that point on.
81 Point Game Just when we thought that Kobe couldn’t score any more than 62 points in a game he proved us wrong again. On January 22, 2006 played a bigger than life game. Kobe had transcended pass any other player in the league at that time. He scored 81 points in a game. What Bryant did was make professional athletes look like rec-league players. He scored only 26 points in the first half, 27 points in the third-quarter points and 28 points in the fourth-quarter. Kobe scored 81 of the team’s 122 points.
Kobe vs Michael part 2 In 2003 Michael Jordan returned to the NBA again to play for the Washington Wizards. March of that year met Kobe for the second time. This time the student has become the teacher. Jordan came out firing, but age quickly started to show. Kobe dominated MJ with 42 points at the half. Kobe’s killer instinct was evident has he did not let up ending the game with 55 points.
Dunks on Dwight Howard Remember when we said Kobe wasn’t partial to who he dunked. Well, Dwight Howard knows exactly what we’re talking about. During his rookie year with the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard who stands at 6’11”, felt like he was only three feet tall when Kobe dunked on him. He says that’s the first time he’s ever been dunked on. There’s a first time for everything and the YouTube videos will make sure Howard never forgets it.
2008 Olympic Gold Medalist USA basketball is world famous. Every four years the elite NBA players are gather to form the USA Olympic team. In the 2004 Olympics the USA men’s basketball team took home the bronze medal. It was a crushing blow to the ego for the USA and the NBA who have put together the Dream Team years before. In 2008 the USA men’s team only had three players that won a championship: Tyshaun Prince, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s will to win shined bright as he lead the USA men’s team to redemption by winning the gold that Olympics.
Kobe’s First Championship A players legacy is often defined by how many championships they’ve won. Being a champion is the mark of a great player. Kobe Bryant was officially branded one of the greats in 2000, after he lead the LA Lakers to win the Finals against the Indiana Pacers. With a supporting cast like Saquille O’Neal and coach Phil Jackson the season was worth watching. The was one of Kobe’s five championship wins, but the first one is the most coveted.