Kobe Bryant’s NBA debut on November 3, 1996, ignited the basketball world’s anticipation. At just 18, Bryant showcased glimpses of his immense talent for the Los Angeles Lakers. The game against the Minnesota Timberwolves unveiled his electrifying athleticism and raw skill. Despite limited playing time, Kobe’s flair and confidence were unmistakable. His debut hinted at the greatness to come, foreshadowing his legendary career. Bryant’s debut marked the beginning of an era, as he emerged as one of the most iconic and influential figures in basketball history. It laid the foundation for a legacy that transcends the sport itself.
1997 Slam Dunk Contest
Bryant’s victory in the 1997 NBA Slam Dunk Contest cemented his status as a rising star. Facing off against formidable competition — including Ray Allen and Michael Finley — Bryant unleashed a mesmerizing display. With unmatched finesse and creativity, he soared through the air, captivating fans with his gravity-defying dunks. From his between-the-legs jam to his iconic reverse windmill, Bryant showcased unparalleled athleticism and style. His performance not only secured the trophy but also etched his name in basketball lore. The dunk contest triumph marked a pivotal moment in Bryant’s career, solidifying his place among the game’s elite and foreshadowing his future dominance on the court.
1998 All-Star Game
In the 1998 NBA All-Star Game, Kobe Bryant made history as the youngest player ever to start, showcasing his precocious talent at just 19. Facing off against his idol, Michael Jordan, Bryant embraced the challenge, delivering a memorable performance. Despite being on opposite sides, their matchup epitomized the passing of the torch from one basketball legend to the next. Bryant’s fearlessness and skill were evident as he scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Bryant to Shaq — Game 7, 2000 WCF
In the crucial Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, Kobe Bryant’s iconic lob to Shaquille O’Neal symbolized their unstoppable partnership. With the Lakers trailing, Bryant’s vision and precision pass ignited a momentum-shifting alley-oop. The play epitomized their dominance and teamwork throughout the season. Bryant’s trust in O’Neal and vice versa was on full display as they orchestrated a pivotal moment en route to the Lakers’ victory.
Heroic Performance in Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals
In a testament to Kobe Bryant’s grit and determination, he defied the odds by returning from a sprained ankle for Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals. Despite the injury, Bryant delivered a historic performance, showcasing his resilience and unparalleled skill. With Shaq out of the game after fouling out, Kobe poured in 28 points, including key baskets down the stretch, to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a crucial victory over the Indiana Pacers. Bryant’s heroic performance under adversity not only swung the momentum of the series but left his team one win away from winning the championship.
48 & 16 vs. Kings — Game 4
During the 2001 NBA playoffs, the Lakers faced the Sacramento Kings in a heated Western Conference Semifinals series. Shaq dominated early, recording historic back-to-back 40-point, 20-rebound performances, while stifling defense curbed Chris Webber’s impact. As the series shifted, Kobe Bryant seized control. In Game 4, with O’Neal dealing with foul trouble, Bryant shouldered the load, playing all 48 minutes and delivering a jaw-dropping 48-point, 16-rebound masterpiece. His clutch play and relentless effort, including nine offensive rebounds, propelled the Lakers to victory, completing the sweep.
The 2001 NBA Finals saw the Los Angeles Lakers face off against the Philadelphia 76ers. After a surprising Game 1 loss, the Lakers bounced back, swiftly seizing control with wins in Games 2 and 3. In Game 5, they asserted dominance, led by Shaquille O’Neal’s imposing presence and Kobe Bryant’s all-around brilliance. Guard Derek Fisher’s clutch shooting added to their firepower, securing a decisive 108-96 victory. The win clinched their second consecutive NBA championship, capping off a historic postseason run with a remarkable 15-1 record — establishing the Lakers as one of the most dominant teams in league history.
The NBA’s Most Recent Three-Peat
In the 2002 NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers faced a formidable challenge from the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals. Despite a fierce battle, the Lakers emerged victorious, showcasing their championship mettle. The Lakers then went on to secure their third consecutive NBA title by defeating the New Jersey Nets in the Finals. Bryant’s standout performance in the series included averaging 26.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. The Kobe-Shaq Lakers remain the most recent team to win three titles in a row.
Nine 40-Point Games In A Row
During the 2002-2003 NBA season, Kobe Bryant embarked on an extraordinary scoring spree, notching nine consecutive games with 40 points or more. With unmatched scoring prowess, Bryant showcased his ability to take over games single-handedly. During the spree, Kobe averaged 44.0 PPG. The Mamba topped 50 points twice during the run, dropping 51 on the Nuggets and 52 on Houston.
Daggers In Portland
In a pivotal game on April 14, 2004, Kobe Bryant delivered heroics for the Lakers, securing a crucial 105-104 double-overtime victory against the Portland Trail Blazers. With seconds dwindling in regulation, Bryant sank a contested 3-pointer to force overtime, capping off a 12-point surge in the final quarter. Then, with just one second left in double-overtime, Bryant buried a buzzer-beating game-winner. His clutch performance propelled the Lakers to clinch the Pacific Division title, securing the second seed in the playoffs. Bryant’s timely shots not only sealed victory but also ensured a favorable postseason position for the Lakers.
55 Points vs. Jordan
In their final showdown, Kobe Bryant electrified the basketball world by pouring in 55 points against Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards. Bryant’s explosive performance led the Los Angeles Lakers to a resounding 108-94 victory. With each basket, he showcased his unmatched scoring prowess and solidified his status as one of the game’s greatest talents. Bryant’s scoring outburst epitomized a passing of the torch moment, as fans waved signs bidding farewell to Jordan while welcoming Bryant as the new face of the league.
62 Points In Three Quarters
Kobe Bryant’s unforgettable display against the Dallas Mavericks left basketball fans in awe as he erupted for 62 points in just three quarters. Dominating every facet of the game, Bryant’s scoring barrage propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to a commanding lead before sitting out the final period. Bryant finished 18-of-31 from the field and knocked down 22-of-25 free throws. It is fun to imagine how many points Kobe could have scored if he played in the fourth quarter.
Kobe Bryant’s legendary 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors stands as one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history. On January 22, 2006, Bryant mesmerized the basketball world with his scoring prowess, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a remarkable comeback victory. His 81 points mark the second-highest single-game total in NBA history. Entering that night, the Lakers had failed to score 81 points four times that year — and both the Blazers and Rockets fell short of 81 points nine times each.
Game-winner vs. Phoenix
In an absolute nail-biter against the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers turned to Kobe Bryant for some serious magic. Picture this: Bryant pulled off not one, but two game-saving shots that had fans on the edge of their seats. First, with time ticking down in regulation, he pulls off this looping layup, sending the game into overtime. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any more intense, Bryant nails a running, all-net dagger from the right elbow at the buzzer in OT. The result? A jaw-dropping 99-98 victory for the Lakers, giving them a 3-1 lead in the series.
Consecutive 50-point Games
In March 2007, Kobe Bryant went on an insane scoring streak that had everyone talking. Four-straight games where he dropped 50 points or more. It was like he was on a mission to single-handedly carry the Lakers to victory, Bryant just couldn’t be stopped. 65 points against Portland. 50 in a win over Minnesota. 60 versus Memphis. 50 to topple the Hornets. For the month, Kobe averaged 37.9 points.
49 & 10 vs. Denver — Game 2, 2008
In Game 2 of the 2008 playoffs against the Denver Nuggets, Kobe Bryant delivered a performance for the ages. With the Staples Center buzzing, Bryant put on a show, torching the Nuggets for 48 minutes. He dominated from start to finish. Bryant’s brilliance was on full display as he poured in a staggering 49 points, leading the Lakers to a crucial victory. Los Angeles would go on to sweep Denver.
2008 NBA MVP
Kobe Bryant won the coveted MVP award in 2008. It had been a long time coming for the NBA’s top player, who’d been dominating the court for years but never got the official nod as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to the best record in the tough Western Conference, and that sealed the deal. He battled through an injury to his pinkie without missing a beat. Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.84 steals.
Gold Medal In Beijing
In 2008, Kobe Bryant showcased his leadership and skill on the international stage, guiding the ‘Redeem Team’ to Olympic gold in Beijing. As the anchor of a star-studded roster, Bryant propelled Team USA to redemption after a disappointing bronze finish in 2004. Throughout the tournament, Bryant’s scoring prowess and defensive tenacity inspired his teammates and silenced doubters. In the gold medal game against Spain, Bryant’s 20 points led the way as Team USA secured a hard-fought victory.
Ring No. 4
In 2009, Kobe led the Lakers to a 65-17 record. Bryant took charge and drove the team through a tough postseason journey — defeating Utah, Houston and Denver en route to the Finals. When they faced off against the Orlando Magic in the Finals, Bryant was unstoppable, averaging a crazy 32.4 points per game. His leadership lit a fire under his teammates, and together they clinched the championship in a thrilling Game 5 showdown. Bryant secured his first Finals MVP.
61 Points at MSG
On February 2, 2009, Kobe Bryant stepped onto the hallowed court of Madison Square Garden and made history. He eclipsed Michael Jordan’s opponent record of 55 points at MSG with three clutch free throws, then topped Bernard King’s mark of 60 with two more foul shots. When the final buzzer went off, Bryant had poured in an astonishing 61 points and left the court to a standing ovation.
Defeated Boston Celtics, 2010 NBA Finals
In a story of redemption, Kobe Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to a historic victory over the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals. Avenging their heartbreaking loss in the 2008 Finals, Bryant and the Lakers outlasted Boston in seven games to win their second title in a row. The Lakers captured their 16th NBA title and Bryant claimed his fifth and final ring. Despite a poor shooting performance in Game 7, Kobe won his second Finals MVP after averaging 28.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists.
Free Throws with a Torn Achilles
On April 12, 2013, during a game against the Golden State Warriors, Kobe faced a devastating moment. As he drove to the basket, Bryant felt a searing pain in his left leg. The diagnosis: a torn Achilles tendon. With the weight of the moment on his shoulders, Bryant courageously stepped up to the free-throw line and sank both shots. It was a testament to Bryant’s legendary resilience and unwavering commitment to his team, etching another chapter in his storied career of overcoming adversity.
In the grand finale of his illustrious career, Kobe Bryant delivered a performance for the ages on April 13, 2016. In his farewell game at the Staples Center, Bryant dazzled the crowd one last time with an astonishing display of scoring prowess. Against the Utah Jazz, Bryant poured in a jaw-dropping 60 points, defying age and exhaustion to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a thrilling victory. With each basket, the crowd erupted in thunderous applause, celebrating the career of one of basketball’s greatest icons.
No. 8 and No. 24 Forever
In a historic ceremony on December 18, 2017, the Los Angeles Lakers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant by retiring both his iconic jersey numbers, 8 and 24. The event celebrated Bryant’s extraordinary contributions to the franchise and his unparalleled impact on the game of basketball. The retirement of both No. 8 and No. 24 solidified Bryant’s status as one of the Lakers’ all-time greats and immortalized his impact on the sport.