The Black Mamba: An Ultimate Competitor

The Black Mamba: An Ultimate Competitor

by January 26, 2020 0 comments

On Jan. 26, 2020, the world lost one of the greatest athletes in sports history.

RELATED: Reports: Kobe Bryant, Daughter Gianna Among 5 Killed in Helicopter Crash

Kobe Bryant started pouring concrete on his historic basketball career while at Lower Merion High School. A four-year starter, Bryant became the National Player of the Year in 1996.

Months later, Bryant was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant became the first guard to be selected directly from high school.

In Los Angeles, Bryant would thrive. In 1996, Bryant debuted as the youngest NBA player in its history (a mark since broken). At the All-Star Weekend in 1997, Bryant wowed fans with a dazzling display of slam dunks, winning the contest.

In 1998, Bryant began to establish himself as an NBA star. He was selected to his first All-Star team and narrowly missed being dubbed the Sixth Man of the Year.

In the strike-shortened 1999 season, Bryant averaged 19.9 points per game and became a full-time starter for the Lakers. He was recognized as an All-NBA Third-Team member.

As calendars turned to a new millennium, Bryant and teammate Shaquille O’Neal took control of the NBA. In 2000, O’Neal was named league MVP, falling one vote shy of a unanimous selection while Bryant made the All-NBA Second-Team and All-Defensive First-Team. In June, the pair captured their first championship.

2001 brought much of the same. Bryant made his second consecutive All-NBA Second-Team, and the Lakers were one of the greatest teams in NBA history, going 15-1 in the playoffs in their second consecutive title-winning season. Bryant had a stellar season, averaging 28.5 points per game.

By 2002, Bryant had arrived. Bryant was recognized as an All-NBA First-Teamer and won a third championship alongside O’Neal. Bryant was also named MVP of the All-Star Game.

In 2003, Bryant and the Lakers failed to make it back to the NBA Finals, but Bryant had yet another incredible campaign. Bryant averaged 30.0 points per game, finishing as a member of the All-NBA and All-Defense First-Teams.

2004 brought more accolades for Bryant as he made his third consecutive All-NBA First-Team before the Lakers bowed out of the Finals to the Pistons.

2005 was a low point in Bryant’s basketball career as he and the Lakers slipped from the pinnacle to mediocrity. Bryant missed the All-Defense team and was only a member of the All-NBA Third-Team. The Lakers missed the playoffs.

In 2006, Bryant unleashed a scoring threat that the league had not seen since Michael Jordan in 1987. Bryant averaged an absurd 35.4 points per game. The highlights of the season included Bryant scoring 62 points in three quarters against the future Western Conference Champion Mavericks and Bryant’s historic 81-point outburst against the Raptors. After scoring just 26 points in the first half, Bryant poured in 27 in the third quarter and 28 in the fourth quarter to post the second-most points in a single game. Despite fizzling out in Game 7 of the Lakers’ first-round playoff series, Bryant breathed magic into a dormant Lakers team with a pair of heroic shots to tie then win Game 4 of the series.

In 2007, Bryant changed his number from eight to 24. Bryant led the NBA in scoring at 31.6 points per game and made another All-NBA First-Team. The Lakers were dumped out of the playoffs in the first round again.

2008 saw the peak of Bryant. Bryant was named NBA MVP and led the Lakers to their first NBA Finals since 2004. Despite falling to the Celtics, Bryant escaped his run of recent playoff failures, setting the Lakers up for the next few seasons.

In 2009, Bryant broke through. The 2009 Lakers won 65 games and rolled through the playoffs, capturing the franchise’s 15th title. Bryant was named Finals MVP and was the runner-up to LeBron James in regular-season MVP voting.

In 2010, Bryant and the Lakers completed a victory lap. The Lakers won 57 games and defeated the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Bryant led six of seven games in scoring, averaging 28.6 points per game to win his second consecutive Finals MVP.

Bryant never again experienced playoff success, but he rattled off seasons of 25 points per game in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Bryant added three more appearances on the All-NBA First-Team in those seasons.

In April of 2013, Bryant tore his Achilles and missed the remainder of the season including the playoffs.

2014 and 2015 were marred with injuries as the once-durable Bryant only played in 41 games.

While 2016 brought many missed shots and 65 losses for the Lakers, Bryant finished his career with a magical night. In his final game, Bryant hoisted 50 shots up, knocking down 22 of them in a 60-point masterpiece. Bryant more than doubled the previous final game of a career scoring record and had a fitting send-off in his final NBA game.

Bryant finished his career with averages of 25.0 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, and 4.7 assists per game. He won five NBA titles, a pair of Finals MVPs, a regular-season MVP, two scoring titles, and made the All-NBA First-Team 11 times. Both No. 8 and No. 24 hang in the rafters of the Staples Center. Bryant retired with the third-most points in NBA history and was passed by LeBron James on Jan. 25, 2020.

Bryant is often included as one of the greatest players in NBA history. Countless analysts, players, and fans have Bryant as members of their Mount Rushmore of NBA players, and many name Bryant as the greatest player to ever live. Bryant left an irreplaceable mark on the NBA. When the concrete finally set on Bryant’s illustrious career, it is comparable to any legend of the game.

Thank you, Kobe.

I’m Ryan Potts. Some people affectionately call me Splash. I am renowned for being a misplaced Ravens, Cavs, Wings & Braves fan. Twitter: MrSplashMan19

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Leave a Reply