It was announced earlier this year that Kobe Bryant will be unanimously enshrined in the basketball hall of fame along with Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. Kobe Bryant played 20 years in the NBA and for one historic franchise in the Los Angeles Lakers. Let us take a look back at the fantastic career of the Black Mamba
Kobe Bryant: A Man Destined For The Hall of Fame
Kobe Through The Years (2000-2005)
Bryant, as most of us know, was drafted in 1996 with the 13th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets and in the blink of an eye was traded to the Lakers for center Vlade Divac. Bryant’s early years from 1996-99 were a bit rocky. He was in and out of the starting lineup and fought to establish himself as an NBA player. It wasn’t until the ’99-00 season that Kobe, as we know him, would begin to take form. In that season alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant would go on to average 22.5 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 4.9 assists per game helping propel his team to the NBA Finals and winning his first ring against Hall Of Famer Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers. Kobe would average 15.6 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, and 4.2 assists per game.
The next two season would prove to be even better for Bryant, making multiple all-star appearances even winning his first All-Star MVP in ’02 and helping lead his teams to the Finals again where he would go on to win the next two championships alongside Shaq, winning against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001 and the Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets in 2002. He averaged 24.6 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and 5.8 assists per game in ’01. 26.8 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, and 5.3 assists per game in ’02
From 2003 to 2005, things would prove to be a bit challenging for Kobe, losing to the San Antonio Spurs in ’03 and then the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals in ’04 alongside an ongoing feud with Shaq that would eventually lead to Shaq being traded. Bryant would miss the playoffs in ’05. Bryant, throughout those seasons, would make the All-Star game every year. He went on to average over 21.0 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, and 5.0 assist per game.
Kobe’s Growth (2005-2010)
The next few years would test Kobe’s growth and maturity. Not just as a basketball player, but as a leader as well. Kobe continued to make All-Star appearances and even won another MVP along the way. He would go on scoring tears unheard of and even managed to score an astounding 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Bryant would change his jersey number from 8 to 24. Also, he won scoring titles in 2006 and 2007 by averaging over 30 points a game.
Bryant would fall in the first round of the playoff in 2006 and ’07 to the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns. He averaged over 25.0 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game and 4.0 assist per game.
A frustrated Kobe Bryant, desperate for help, would demand a trade to any other team if help was not found. Thus creating the trade that acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzles. Bryant, during the 2008 season, would go on to win his first regular-season MVP by averaging 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists and leading his team to the NBA finals, losing to the revamped Boston Celtics that had Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. Bryant would average 25.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assist.
During the summer of ’08, Bryant would help lead the redeem team to an Olympic gold medal along with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and others
Kobe Bryant would come back more motivated than ever by leading his team to the best record in the western conference and back to the finals in 2009, where they would easily take down Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Bryant averaged 32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 7.4 assists, winning his first finals MVP. Kobe would lead his back to the Finals the following season in 2010 and faced off against the Celtics once again. In epic fashion, it would come down to a winner-take-all game seven. Bryant and the Lakers would prevail. Bryant would win his fifth championship ring and second finals MVP averaging 28.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists.
The Final Chapter (2011-2016)
The remaining years of Bryant’s career would come with more All-Star appearances and winning a few more All-Star MVPs, bringing his total to four, tied with Bob Pettit for most in NBA history. He also attained numerous milestones like climbing up to third on the all-time scoring list passing Micheal Jordan. Bryant would suffer a few season-ending injuries that helped cut his career short. Bryant suffered a torn Achilles, fractured knee, and torn labrum in his shoulder. Despite injuries, Bryant would go on to win his second Olympic gold medal. Bryant, however, would announce his retirement during the 2015-2016 season. During Bryant’s last game of his farewell tour, in typical Kobe fashion, he scored a whopping 60 points against the Utah Jazz.
Kobe Bryant played a total of 20 years in the NBA. All for one franchise and was able to win five championships and multiple all-star MVPs, two Olympic gold medals and the list goes on. If that doesn’t sound hall of fame-worthy, I don’t know what does. There is no Hall of Fame without a Kobe Bryant Hall of Fame.
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