Kobe Bryant is one of basketball's greatest players of all time. Whether you're a die-hard Lakers fan or saw him as a villain, you cannot deny his talent and hard work when he wore the purple and gold. Kobe played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers wearing No. 8, and No. 24.
On January 26th, Kobe Bryant along with his daughter Gianna, and 7 others tragically passed in a helicopter incident. In honor of his tremendous impact he had and still has on the city of Los Angeles that stems around the world, we take a look back at his best career moments.
1997: SLAM DUNK CHAMPION
Kobe's rookie year started off on a high note by taking home the Slam Dunk title in the NBA All-Star game. Here is where he put his stamp on the league to show he was the future and here to stay.
1997: KOBE VS. JORDAN
Kobe vs. Jordan. Need we say more?
2000: WINS 1ST NBA CHAMPIONSHIP
In a brand new STAPLES Center, Kobe won his first NBA championship alongside superstar teammate, Shaq. This began a league-wide alert that this dangerous duo would be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.
2001: WINS BACK-TO-BACK TITLES
Kobe and the Lakers came back stronger than ever to defend their title and nearly set an NBA record for clean sweep throughout the playoffs. Winning back-to-back championships proved to be an easy one, losing just one game and finishing with a 15-1.
2002: FIRST ALL-STAR MVP
Kobe Bryant returned to his hometown of Philadelphia and put on a show at the 2002 All-Star Game. Bryant had 31 points, five rebounds and five steals to win his first All-Star Game MVP award.
Kobe helped the Lakers win three straight championships, becoming just the 3rd organization in history to do so. This run of titles cemented their dynasty and the phrase "Three-peat" came back to life.
2004: SCORES 40+ POINTS IN NINE STRAIGHT GAMES
Scoring 40+ points in nine straight games. Who else can do that? Kobe was arguably the best player in the league at this time and went on to win the scoring title.
2006: 81 POINTS
Kobe was shooting lights-out in this game and went on to record the 2nd largest scoring performance by a single player with 81 points. If you missed this game, the video above is 81 reasons to watch.
2007: SECOND ALL-STAR MVP
In the 2007 All-Star Game in Las Vegas, Kobe tallied 31 points, five rebounds and six assists on his way to win his second All-Star Game MVP Award.
2008: OLYMPIC GOLD
Kobe had 13 points and two assists in the fourth quarter as Team USA survived a gritty, determined performance by Spain to take home the gold medal for Team USA.
2008: NBA MVP
Kobe rose to the top this year winning his first NBA MVP award and leading his team to the best record in the West and all the way to the 2008 NBA Finals.
2009: THIRD ALL-STAR MVP
Kobe returned to glory with a familiar counterpart from earlier in his career as he won Co-MVP with Shaq and took home his 3rd All-Star MVP Award.
2009: BACK ON TOP
A year after losing in the NBA Finals, the Lakers bounced right back and Kobe won his 4th championship. It was the first time Kobe won a title and the Finals MVP trophy without Shaq, knocking a huge personal weight off his shoulder.
2010: BACK-TO-BACK ONCE AGAIN
Another back-to-back title run for Kobe and the Lakers. This marked Kobe's 5th championship and his most special as it was a classic head-to-head Game 7 win against their archrival, Boston Celtics.
2011: FOURTH ALL-STAR MVP
Kobe Bryant won his NBA record-tying fourth All-Star game MVP award to the delight of his hometown fans in Los Angeles, scoring 37 points and propelling the victory.
2012: TEAM USA: TWICE AS NICE
Kobe helps Team USA defend their gold winnings from 2008 and repeat as Olympic Gold winners at the 2012 Olympics.
2013: The Achilles Free Throws
Kobe has had his share of broken bones and bruises, but tearing his Achilles was the worst injury of his career. However, this game proved to show just how tough and competitive Kobe is, by hitting both free throws and walking on/off his own.
2014: KOBE PASSES JORDAN
Kobe passed Michael Jordan (the player he has always been compared to) on the NBA's all-time scoring list. On this night, he became the 3rd highest scoring player EVER.
2015 Kobe's Final Game
Watching Kobe Bryant for the last time in a purple and gold uniform was like many before as the Lakers’ legend scored 60 points in his farewell NBA game. He ended his 20 year NBA career with a touching speech that many will remember.
BONUS: KOBE JUMPS OVER A SPEEDING CAR
There's no question Kobe Bryant is one of the most accomplished players in NBA history. His #8 and #24 jerseys hang in STAPLES Center and will serve as a reminder that the Mamba Mentality will live on.
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