My list of Kobe Bryant moments ?>

My list of Kobe Bryant moments

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Kobe Bryant stuffs the ball during his last Manila visit in July 2011 where he played in the Smart All Stars at the Big Dome. Photo courtesy of Jerome Ascano

As Kobe Bryant capped his storied NBA career on Thursday (April 14 in Manila) with a 60-point outburst in Los Angeles’ 101-96 come-from-behind win over the Utah Jazz, I want to share some of my own recollection of the Black Mamba’s highs and lows with the Lakers.

Personally, next to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant is the next great competitor in the NBA all-time.

SEE: Saying goodbye to the Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

No disrespect to other NBA legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, to name a few, but in my observation, Bryant’s competitive fire is just too great for it to be easily extinguished.
Among the many memorable moments I had watching the Black Mamba, Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals was the best. That’s because Bryant struggled offensively in that game, shooting an abysmal 6-of-24 from the field.
But Bryant found a way to contribute on the defensive end, pulling down 15 rebounds in the winner-take-all game.
To me, I don’t remember Jordan pulling that much of a rebound in an NBA Finals (maybe because he’s got Horace Grant in his 1st “Triple Crown” and Dennis Rodman in his 2nd “Triple Crown”).
The Lakers also had their worst shooting night in Game 7. But as they slowly clawed back against the Boston Celtics, Bryant stood at the forefront of LA’s magnificent comeback.

He overcame fatigue by making a rare, long 2 in Game 7 against Ray Allen in the 5-minute mark. He then made 2 crucial free throws along with an assist to Metta World Peace inside the last 60 seconds to help LA secure its 2nd straight NBA crown, w”avenging the Lakers’ 2008 Finals debacle to the Celtics in the process.
Kobe Bryant had the last laugh against the Celtics and their Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rat Allen with the Lakers’ 83-79 win in Game 7.
Below are some more memorable moments I had of Kobe Bryant.
  • Remember the Black Mamba’s 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006? Bryant just completely annihilated the Raptors with an assortment of shots – dunks, free throws, pull-up jumpers, layup over multiple defenders and threes.
  • How about Bryant outscoring the entire Dallas team after dropping 62 (as opposed to the Mavs’ 61) after 3 quarters at the Staples Center on Dec. 21, 2005. The Lakers went rolling past the Mavericks, 112-90.
  • Another memorable game for me was Bryant’s game-winning shot against the favored Phoenix Suns in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs in 2006. Kobe’s 17-footer at the buzzer sealed LA’s 99-98 overtime win to give the underwhelming favorites Lakers a 3-1 series lead. (But we know the Suns won the last 3 games to beat the Lakers and advance to the semis.)
  • Or Bryant’s crossover against Scottie Pippen in the 2000 West Finals Game 7, leading to a penetration and alley-oop play to Shaquille O’Neal, with the 7-2 giant coming down with the dunk. The Lakers advanced to the Finals for the first time since 1991, and they went to beat the Sixers, 4-2 for the franchise’s first of three NBA titles under Phil Jackson.
  • Among the many highlights, I would say, the turning point for Kobe’s rise to greatness happened during his rookie year. His 4 air balls in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Playoffs eliminated the Lakers.  But I believe that early setback in his young NBA career didn’t dampen his spirit as he worked on his game, enabling him to reach the pinnacle of the NBA and becoming a 5-time champion and 2-time Olympic gold medalist as well with the USA team. (I touched on this subject lengthily in my new book Sports Icons.) 
I know there are many more highlights in Kobe Bryant’s two decades in the NBA.
How about you? What is your favorite Kobe Bryant moment?

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