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Rest In Peace: 30 Iconic Kobe Bryant Moments

Darren - January 29, 2020
Lists

Rest In Peace: 30 Iconic Kobe Bryant Moments

Darren - January 29, 2020
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

11. First MVP Finals Win

Winning the NBA finals without Shaquille O’Neal was massive for Kobe’s legacy. However, the way he won it must have been better than even he expected. They went to war with the Orlando Magic and Bryant put on a clinic across the series to bring the championship home.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He averaged 32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game. This was more than enough to win the MVP award, the first of Bryant’s career. This was so important for him because it proved he could do it without Shaq by his side. And he would go on and do it again.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. The 40-Plus February

Few scorers in history have ever been as prolific as Bryant. He was able to maintain periods of consistency that few other basketball stars can compare with. The NBA legend has the greatest February in history, averaging 40.6 points per game.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

That kind of output is just outrageous. Nobody else has achieved that. He must have only played a couple of games right? No, he achieved at least 40 points in nine consecutive games. The only other man to do that was Michael Jordan back in 1986. A historical month for Bryant.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. 61 Points at MSG

Madison Square Garden is one of the most iconic sports arenas in the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s boxing, hockey. or basketball, just playing there once is the stuff of dreams for many athletes. Of course, Bryant took MSG by storm with a showing that’s still record-breaking.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

In 2009, Kobe made history by scoring 61 points, breaking Bernard King’s record for most points scored in the building’s modern era. Carmelo Anthony has since broken that record. However, Kobe still has the accolade of the most points scored by an opponent in MSG.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Game 7 Alley-Oop

One of Bryant’s most iconic plays went down in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals. It was a beautiful moment of collaboration between two of the game’s greatest ever athletes. The Lakers were battling Portland with under a minute left on the clock.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers were up by four when Bryant dribbled into the lane and lobbed up a high arcing pass. O’Neal was there to meet it and dunked it in with one hand. In short, this iconic alley-oop sealed the game. This was also the start of the Lakers’ domination of the NBA.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

7. 62 Points in Three Quarters

The 81-point game is more famous, but arguably this was even more impressive. Bryant had a devastating game in 2005 against the Dallas Mavericks a month before the Raptors explosion. He scored 62 points on 31 shots in just 32 minutes of gameplay.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

In fact, the Lakers were so good that day that Bryant didn’t even play the final quarter. It could have been a record-breaking performance if he had. Even crazier was the fact that Kobe had scored more points at that stage than the entire Mavericks team. They had just 61 points by the end of the third quarter.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. 2010 Win Over Boston

This is the game that sealed Kobe’s championship pedigree. It’s wild to think that at one point people didn’t think he was a winner. However, he got his hands on three titles with O’Neal and then another in 2009. However, arguably his legacy-defining win was in 2010.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

His game seven performance against the Celtics saw him carry his team over the line to victory. He averaged 28.6 points per game over the course of the series as the Lakers slogged their way to another NBA championship. It also saw him earn his second straight NBA Finals MVP award.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Free Throws After Achilles Tear

This Achilles injury was the beginning of the end for Bryant. At 34 years old, it was always going to be a battle to get back to anything near the full extent of his powers. He was playing against the Golden State Warriors when he fell to the ground and grabbed the back of his leg before hobbling to the side of the court.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Despite this, he stayed in the game and two free throws to tie the game at 109. It was a testament to his endurance and resolve because he was willing to battle through injury for the win. All of that even though he suffered one of the worst injuries that can happen to a basketball player.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Winning an Oscar

Of course, Bryant is most famous for what he did on the court. But he stayed busy when he retired. How many NBA stars are also Oscar winners? It just goes to show what a genius Bryant was. In 2018 he won the Oscar for the best short animated film with ‘Dear Basketball,’ alongside his collaborator Glen Keane.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Based on a poem Bryant wrote for The Players’ Tribune, it conveys his love for the game and why he retired. Legendary composer John Williams created the score. It just goes to show what a thoughtful and artistic person Bryant was and it’s fantastic that his legacy lives on in different ways.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

3. The Fake Pass

Bryant gained a reputation for his ice-cold demeanor. It’s very rare that he got emotional and lost control. Other NBA players thrive from living on the edge, but that’s not how Kobe was. The prime example of this was when he played against the Orlando Magic’s Matt Barnes and didn’t flinch.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The pair were sniping at each other all game with Barnes getting increasingly mad. Known for his volatile personality, Barnes was Kobe’s polar opposite. Officials intervened to calm them down. Barnes had one more trick up his sleeve. He picked the ball up and faked a pass into Kobe’s face. Bryant didn’t even blink.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Record 81-Point Game

Only one man has scored more points in a game than Bryant. That was the legendary Walt Chamberlain, who put 100 points on the board. But in the modern era, Bryant is definitely way out in front with this tremendous 81-point effort. It’s almost inconceivable how he did it.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

It happened in 2006 against the Raptors. Bryant scored 26 points in the first half but the Lakers were still down by 14. Nobody could have expected the relentless outburst that was about to come. Kobe scored 27 points in the 3rd quarter and 28 in the 4th. In short, it’s one of the greatest performances of all-time and will be forever.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. ‘Mamba Out’

After suffering an Achilles injury, Bryant was never the same again. Especially as he was getting older. He recognized the deterioration of his body and made the decision to retire. But his last game saw him leave him with a bang. In the final match of 2016, he saved his one of his best for last.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Bryant scored a fantastic 60 points, his highest total of the season. It was a vintage performance that had the crowd on their feet because they knew greatness when they saw it. He stood in front of the sold-out Staples Center and thanked them from the bottom of his heart. ‘Mamba out,’ he said.

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