After Shaquille O’Neal was traded away to the Miami Heat, Kobe was given full reign of the new-look Los Angeles Lakers. It was rough playing with teammates like Smush Parker and Kwame Brown listed as starters. But somehow Kobe used that opportunity as a time to make history and seal his legacy.
The amount of remarkable moments within this time period is unbelievable and it’s difficult to not just sit back and simply say “wow.”
That’s the only way to describe the Kobe Bryant that reared his head in the immediate post-Shaq era. We were all truly in the presence of greatness.
3) March 16 – 23 vs. Various Teams
65. 50. 60. 50.
During this string of games that included two home games against Portland and San Antonio followed by back-to-back games in Memphis and New Orleans, Kobe did what only one other player has ever done in NBA history.
Second only to Wilt Chamberlain who scored 50+ points in 32 consecutive games, Kobe dropped 50 or more points in four straight games, all of which resulted in wins for the Lakers. The Golden State Warriors finally “shut him down” holding him to only 43 the next game to cap off a five game win streak of historical proportions.
2) December 20, 2005 vs. Dallas Mavericks, Staples Center
The 2005-2006 season was special for Kobe. High volume scoring became a regular occurrence as he went on to average a career high 35.4 points per game. On the way to this scoring total he decided to do something that might never be witnessed again.
Kobe was able to single-handedly outscore the entire Dallas Mavericks team through three quarters with 62 points to Dallas’ 61 giving the Lakers a 95-61 lead going into the fourth.
Say all you want about him being a selfish player; but when you can produce amazing feats like this and still lead your team to a win I think you earn the right to hog the ball a little bit.
With his team down 71-53 in the third quarter, Kobe turned it on. He was already having a great night after scoring 14 in the first quarter and 12 in the second for a total of 26 first half points. But that wasn’t enough. The Lakers need more and there was no one on that team that could provide it except #8.
Kobe went on a scoring barrage that Lamar Odom described simply as “incredible.”
He led his team on a 38-14 run to put his Lakers on top 91-85 going into the fourth quarter, scoring 27 points for himself during that stretch. With no intentions of giving up the lead he worked so hard to establish, Kobe added an additional 28 points for an unbelievable total of 81 before walking off to a standing ovation from the crowd at Staples Center with 43.4 seconds left in the game. That performance placed Kobe second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game on the all-time list of points scored in a single NBA game.
Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson who coached Michael Jordan to six championships and added another three to his resume with Shaq and Kobe was quoted after the game saying “I’ve seen some remarkable games, but I’ve never seen one like that before.”
Kobe’s final stat line: 81 points, 2 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 28-46 FG , 7-13 3pt FG, 18-20 FT
2006 Western Conference First Round, Game 4 vs. Phoenix Suns, Staples Center
Not quite “the shot” but I’d say it’s pretty close.
The Lakers were extremely heavy underdogs going into the series but with Kobe Bryant leading the way, maybe anything is possible. With the Lakers holding the series advantage at 2-1, the Suns were looking to tie it up at two apiece with the series heading back to Phoenix for Game 5.
Kobe had other plans.
With one shot in overtime, Kobe did the impossible. A last second buzzer beater from the right elbow gave the Lakers a 99-98 lead over the second place Suns giving his team a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 series lead with the series shifting to Phoenix for Game 5.
2007-2008 MVP Trophy Presentation
After 12 years of putting in work for the purple and gold through the ups and the downs, Kobe was rewarded for his efforts when he received his first MVP trophy following the 2007-2008 NBA season.
This could possibly be the only MVP trophy he receives in his career with the 2011-2012 season being his 16th in the league but one thing I’ve learned over the years from watching him play is to never underestimate him even for a second.