Remembering the Great Kobe Bryant- Number Eight’s Best Eight Plays

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Remembering the Great Kobe Bryant- Number Eight’s Best Eight Plays

Lakers at Wizards 12/3/14

Lakers at Wizards 12/3/14

KeithAllisonPhoto.com

Lakers at Wizards 12/3/14

KeithAllisonPhoto.com

KeithAllisonPhoto.com

Lakers at Wizards 12/3/14

Matthew Swanenburg, Staff Writer

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On Sunday, January 26th tragedy struck as news broke that a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California had killed nine people. In those nine dead were Gianna Bryant, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Ara Zobayan, and the first person to be reported dead in the crash, former NBA superstar and Laker legend Kobe Bryant. At first everyone was in disbelief, and then the story started to develop until it had grown into a front page headline on ESPN. At that point, everyone knew the unfortunate truth: the world had lost nine innocent people, including a global sports superstar, who was one of the fiercest competitors to ever pick up a basketball. In remembrance, it’s time to count down number Eight’s (and 24’s) top eight career plays.

8. Kobe Doesn’t Flinch- This play doesn’t have anything to do with Kobe’s basketball skills, but it truly shows the Black Mamba’s Mamba Mentality. On March 7th, 2010, Matt Barnes of the Orlando Magic purposefully bumped into Kobe on his way to inbounds the ball. Matt Barnes is well-known for getting into many altercations, so this was starting to look like another one was brewing. In the first half, Kobe had 13 points on the then-44-20 Orlando Magic, and in the midst of a close game tension was rising. The referee handed Barnes the ball on the baseline and Kobe lined up to guard the inbounds pass. This is when the magic happens- Matt Barnes picked up the ball and immediately faked a hard pass to Kobe’s face. Kobe didn’t move. Even as the ball came centimeters from his face. Kobe didn’t flinch. This play proved to be a spark for the Black Mamba, who went on to have 21 points in the second half.

7. Kobe Wins MVP- After 11 seasons in the NBA and back-to-back seasons of averaging 30+ points, Kobe Bryant still hadn’t won a single MVP award. That is, until the 2007-2008 season. Kobe played all 82 regular season games and led the Los Angeles Lakers to the number 1 seed in the Western Conference. He averaged 28.5 points per game and contributed 5 assists and 6 rebounds. In that 2007-2008 season, Kobe also had two 50-point games and five 40-point games.

6. Kobe to Shaq Pass in Game 7 of The Western Conference Finals- Kobe Bryant is not known for passing the ball very often, but when he did against the Portland Trailblazers in game 7 of the Conference Finals, it was a good one. After being down by as many as 15 in the 4th quarter, the Lakers staged an epic comeback to take a 4-point lead with around 40 seconds left in the final quarter. The ball was in a young Kobe Bryant’s hands, and with a chance to go to the NBA Finals, Kobe made the right play by dishing the ball to Shaquille O’Neal for one of the most iconic plays in NBA history. This was a play that cemented the young duo as an all time great pairing, and a play that later sparked their run for three straight NBA titles.

5. Kobe Passes MJ on the All-Time Scoring List- Considered the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) by many, Michael Jordan is widely known as one of the greatest scorers of all time. In fact, Michael Jordan was third on the all-time scoring list before Kobe Bryant passed him. Kobe came into a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves 8 points shy of passing Jordan, and easily surpassed that, scoring 26 points, with point number 9 coming at the free throw line. Kobe stayed as the number 3 scorer for nearly 7 years, ending his career with an amazing total of 33,643 points.

4. Kobe Gets Revenge on the Celtics- One thing that propels Kobe Bryant into the all-time-great conversation is his countless accolades. Of those great accolades, 5 are NBA Championships. After losing to the Boston Celtics in 2008, there was growing concern that Kobe Bryant needed Shaquille O’Neal to be an NBA Champ. Instead of folding after a crushing defeat, Kobe led the Lakers in back-to-back NBA Championships, including a 4-3 series win over the Boston Celtics, in which Kobe won his 2nd straight finals MVP.

3. Kobe’s Final Game- As his 20th NBA season came to a close, Kobe Bryant was prepared to go out with a bang. After missing his first 5 shots, it looked like Kobe was making a good choice in calling quits in his career. Then, in true Mamba form, Kobe Bryant scored 60 points to give the Lakers a narrow victory over the Jazz. Kobe shot a solid 22/50 in the game, ending his career with an all-time-great performance.

2. Kobe Tears Achilles, Stays in The Game- At this time, Kobe Bryant was well into the latter half of his career, but was still a dominant force in the NBA. During a game with the Golden State Warriors, though, it looked like Kobe might be done. When driving into the paint for a tough layup, Kobe drew a lot of contact and fell hard, a blow that turned out to be a torn achilles. Kobe used that horrible injury to show off his Mamba Mentality, calmly draining two free throws. Not his most skillful moment, but one of the most impressive plays of all time.

1. Kobe Scores 81- For number one on this list, I combined two great moments. On December 2oth, 2005, Kobe Bryant had 62 points through three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. He was on fire throughout the first three quarters and easily had the chance to go for a scoring record. But, when the coach asked if Kobe wanted to play the fourth to get to 80 points, he said he would do it another time. Flash forward one month later. The Los Angeles Lakers are playing the Toronto Raptors and this time Kobe leaves nothing to chance, scoring 81 points on 28/46 shooting. Kobe Bryant’s performance against the Raptors is not only his best game ever, but one of the best single games of all time.