The next NBA superstar in my Player Profile edition is none other than the ''Black Mamba'' who we all know as Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers phenom has provided NBA fans with spectacular highlights and phenomenal memories over Kobe's career and marked him down as one of the deadliest assassins the NBA had ever seen. The Purple and Gold knew they had gained a superstar in the making when Kobe came on board in the 90's and provided a spark that the Lakers were missing since Magic and Kareem. The veteran was able to bring the prestigious Lakers brand 5 more NBA championships during his career and label him as one of the greatest Lakers as well as Top 10 in greatest NBA players off all time. The Black Mamba's ability to shoot from deep whether it be a set shot or fade away, drive to the basket with ferocious slams and nifty finishes, and have an impeccable mid range game with post fades and a variety of pull up jump shots made him one of the hardest players to guard in the leagues history. Now let's have a look through the career of the one of the greatest basketball players of our time.
The legend of Kobe Bryant began in 1996 when he was actually drafted to the Charlotte Hornets which some people do not know and during the 1996 NBA Draft, the Hornets decided that they would swap their pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for a centre who was named Vlade Divac. Boy, what a mistake that was! Kobe Bryant didn't come into the league as explosive as some may think as he was very young when he entered the NBA aged only 18 and came straight from highschool. Kobe when he was a rookie only averaged 7.6 points per game due to having limited game time due to being a rookie and how it was back then. This was improved in a big way in Kobe's second season in the NBA where he averaged 15.4 points per game and the league started to recognize the talent of Kobe Bryant as their was a search for the next Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant also wont the 1997 Dunk Contest making him the youngest winner of all time at only the age of 18.
Kobe Bryant got his first shot at glory in 2000 when him and Shaquille O'neal took the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA finals where they versed the Indiana Pacers and won the series 4-2 giving Kobe Bryant his first NBA championship beginning the legacy of one of the greatest Lakers of all time. Kobe didn't have the most spectacular first NBA finals experience as he had to sit out most of Game 2 and all of Game 3 due to landing on Jalen Rose's foot causing him to sit sideline. Kobe thought did take over in the games he did play scoring a game winning shot in Game 4 and providing good help the Shaq's dominance in that finals series.
The Los Angeles Lakers returned to the NBA finals in 2001 to see if they can clinch they're second in a row. Kobe and Shaq dominated the Philadelphia 76ers to had Allen Iverson winning the series 4-1 giving up Game 1 which was the only game the Lakers had lost all playoffs. Kobe Bryant was much more dominant in this NBA finals compared to his first averaging 24.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. This gave Kobe Bryant his second NBA championship and giving the Laker's their second in a row.
The duo of Shaq and Bryant seemed unstoppable and this was proven when the Lakers returned to try achieve the threepeat in 2002 against the New Jersey Nets. This series was short lived with the Lakers smashing the Nets 4-0 and giving Bryant his third NBA championship. This completed the Laker's three-peat and set Kobe up to to a very good start to his career. The duo of Shaq and Kobe unfortunately died their as their was controversy over who the number 1 option should be and ego's collided which resulted in the two never winning another NBA championship again which some say is shocking because if the two had settled their differences, it could have been one of the most dominating dynastys the league had ever seen.
In the 2007-2008 NBA regular season, Kobe Bryant won his one and only regular season MVP and reached the NBA finals where he faced the Boston Celtics with the big three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers were not able to win the NBA finals losing 4-2 but this was not enough to stop the Black Mamba. Kobe Bryant returned the next two years to the NBA finals with the Lakers winning both of them, one against the Orlando Magic which the Lakers absolutely destroyed and Kobe had his most dominant Finals series against averaging 32 points, and the other against the Boston Celtics in 2010 where the Lakers won in Game 7 giving Kobe Bryant his 5th and finals NBA champion finishing with the finals record of 5-2.
Kobe Bryant unfortunately suffered injuries to his Achilles tendon which was a bad way to end his career as he wasn't his usual assassin self in the years of 2013-2016 but the Black Mamba left NBA fans with a treat when he dropped 60 points in his retirement game proving to be the perfect way for the assassin to retire and showing why he is one of the best scorers the league has seen before.
Kobe Bryant averaged 25 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, and 4.7 assists per game throughout his dominant career ending up 3rd on the all-time NBA scoring list behind Kareen Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone demonstrating how deadly of a scorer Kobe Bryant really was! Below are highlights of some of the greatest shots the Black Mamba ever made in his career! Enjoy.
Where does Kobe Bryant rank on your all-time list? Is the Black Mamba the best scorer of all time? Leave a comment below and leave your thoughts on my Player Profile edition!