Kobe Bryant’s Most Memorable Moments (Part 2)
We continue the countdown of Kobe’s most memorable moments during his NBA career. Click here for part 1
16. Kobe’s two ridiculous 3 pointers in Portland
The Lakers needed a win in Portland to steal the Pacific division title. What resulted has to be seen to be believed. It’s worthy to note the stunned silence on the Portland announcers after he buries the game winner
15. Kobe and The Lakers return to the top of the NBA
After Shaq was traded, there was plenty of doubts as to whether Kobe could lead The Lakers to the NBA championship. Those doubts were answered with an emphatic 4-1 win over the Orlando Magic in 2009. Kobe was finals MVP.
14. Kobe wins back to back finals MVP’s
Game 7 was clearly not one of Kobe’s best games, but his leadership and play throughout the series was enough for him to win his second straight finals MVP award and his 5th NBA championship
13. 9 Straight 40 + point games in 2003
After 3 straight NBA championships, the Lakers were facing legitimate adversity during the 2003 season. Shaq was injured, and the team was struggling to stay above .500. Kobe responded with one of the greatest scoring runs in NBA history.
12. The shootout in Chicago
There was a time in the NBA where nearly every player tried avoided even making eye contact with Jordan, out of fear of awaking a sleeping lion. Kobe, not being intimidated by anyone, went toe to toe with MJ and showed that he was the future of the NBA. MJ finished with 33, and the Bulls won. But Kobe would turn heads with an impressive 30 points in a performance that catapulted his first ASG birth a few months later.
11. Lakers 15-1 Playoff Run in 2001
No team in NBA history has ever been as dominant in the playoffs as the 2001 Lakers. Led by Shaq and Kobe, they steamrolled throughout the playoffs, losing their only game to Allen Iverson and the 76ers.
10. 62 points throughout 3 quarters vs. Dallas
In one of the most explosive scoring explosions in NBA history, Kobe completely demolished Dallas (who would go on to the NBA finals that season) so badly that he didn’t even have to play in the 4th quarter. It’s quite possible, considering that he dropped 32 points in the 3rd quarter alone, that had he played the 4th, that this might have been his biggest scoring output in his career.
9. Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals
After the Lakers lost game 3 to Indiana, their lead in the series was only 2-1. In game 4, The Pacers were surging and Kobe was struggling with a severe ankle sprain. In overtime, Shaq fouled out and things looked incredible bleak for the Lakers. Kobe stepped up in one of his most legendary performances.
8. Kobe’s 2 free throws with a torn Achilles
Sometimes, a picture tells a thousand words.
7. Kobe scores 55 points against Jordan
In their final matchup on an NBA court, Kobe would score 55 points (including 42 in the first half) against the great Michael Jordan. But perhaps the most enduring image of that game wasn’t the barrage of points, but the respect shown by both players captured in the image above.
6. Kobe scores 50 + points in 4 straight games (including two 60 point games)
In late 2007, The Lakers were in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. Kobe would unleash, going on a scoring assault not seen in the NBA since Wilt Chamberlain.
5. Lakers 3 peat
Think about all the great Laker teams: From West and Wilt, Magic and Kareem, even Kobe and Gasol, none of them have won 3 in a row… with the exception of Shaq and Kobe. David Stern said it best after their 3rd straight championship, proclaiming them “A team for the ages.”
4. Kobe’s first Gold Medal
After decades of dominance, in 2004 the men’s American basketball team failed to win the gold medal. In 2008, a loaded team went to Bejing and was expected to cruise to the Gold. Everything was going to plan until a veteran Spanish team challenged America. Kobe would step up and deliver perhaps his best performance under pressure.
3. Amnesty THAT!
The Lakers, fighting for their playoff lives at the time, would receive criticism from a familiar source; Mark Cuban. Cuban had said the Lakers should amnesty Kobe. The Mamba would deliver a brilliant performance in a critical Lakers win, and followed up by tweeting “Amnesty THAT” to Cuban, effectively shutting up one of the most disrespectful comments made by an owner to a great player and servant of the game.
2. Game 7 2000 Western Conference Finals
This was perhaps Kobe’s most important performance. Portland had won the past two games in the series to force a 7th game. Everyone remembers the 3 point barrage from Shaw and Horry in the 4th quarter, but Kobe had kept them within striking distance to allow the comeback to take place. Had The Lakers lost that game, there is a good chance that the entire roster was rebuilt and who knows what would have happened after that.
1. 81 Points
One of the great forgotten stories is how, on the Raptors broadcast, their commentators were gloating about at halftime how “it didn’t matter how many points Kobe would score in the second half, he needed to involve his teammates” when Toronto had a double digit lead. Ha! I guess it eluded their minds that with Smush Parker, Luke Walton, Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm, Kobe didn’t exactly have trustworthy offensive players alongside him. Regardless, what Kobe did in this game cemented his career as one of the very best to ever play. The Lakers were struggling at this point to make the playoffs, and needed this win. Toronto actually wasn’t that bad of a team, and Kobe had to carry them. This was not like Wilt’s 100 point game where his own teammates were fouling the opposing team to get him more possessions. Kobe did this legitimately, and because of this, produced the greatest single game performance in the regular season in NBA history.