The game is on the line. Your team needs a bucket to win or send the game into overtime. When in doubt, there is always one man you can count on to send you into an extra 5 minutes or win you the game. This man has been known to be a killer time and time again and his name is Kobe Bryant.
A lot of people consider him the 2nd greatest basketball player of all time right behind his idol Michael Jordan. He certainly has the resume that will induct him into the Hall Of Fame down the road. Here is a list of his accomplishments in his 17 year career in which he was spent with one team, the Los Angeles Lakers:
|Career highlights and awards|
He is also a memeber of the United States men’s national basketball squad that won 2 Summer Olympic Gold Medals in 2008 and 2012 and was a member of the US team that won the FIBA Americas Championship at Las Vegas in 2007. He also has won 5 ESPY Awards and he won the Sporting News NBA Athlete of the Decade(2000’s) and the TNT Player Of The Decade(2000’s).
He also owns numerous Laker franchise records such as
- Most seasons played with 17
- Most playoff seasons played with 15
- Career points with 31,297(and counting)
- Career playoff points with 5,640
- Most points in a game with 81 against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006
- Most Points in one half with 55 against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006
- Points in 1 quarter with 30, 4th highest in league history and the best for a 3rd quarter(done twice)
- Most consecutive free throws with 62(January 11-22, 2006)
- Career leader in steals with 1,810(and counting)
It wasn’t all glits and glamour for the Black Mamba. Despite being consistently in the playoffs year in and year out, he has had a few bumps in the road towards his legendary stature. Then again, which legends haven’t been there and done that? Lets take a look at how his journey began to where it is now
Born on August 23rd, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was the youngest and only son of former NBA 1st round pick and former WNBA Head Coach Joe “Jellybean” Bryant. His father played 9 seasons in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers, the San Diego Clippers and the Houston Rockets. In 606 career games, his father averaged 8.7 PPG and 4 RPG.
In 1984 when Kobe was 6, the family moved to Italy after his father signed a deal with AMG Sebastiani Rieti. In 1991 when Kobe was 13, Joe retired and the family moved back to the United States. Upon returning, Bryant would enroll at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia. Starting all 4 years on the varsity squad, the bumps began here.
In his freshman year, he had an outstanding season but the team mustered an abysmal 4-20 record. Over the course of his next 3 years, the Aces turned it around winning 77 of 90 games, with Bryant playing all 5 positions. In his junior season, he averaged over 30 points per game and 10 rebounds per game and was named the Pennsylvania Player of the Year.
Colleges such as Duke, North Carolina, Villanova and Michigan all began a run to recruit him. However, when Kevin Garnett went in the 1st round of the 1995 NBA Draft, he strongly considered going pro after his senior year. In his senior year, Bryant led the Aces to their 1st state championship in over 50 years. He left Lower Merion as their all time scorer with 2,883 points.
He received many awards including the Naismith High School Player of the Year, Gatorade Men’s National Basketball Player of the Year, a McDonald’s All-American, and a USA Today All-USA First Team Player honors. He then decided to pass up on college ball and head towards the NBA.
He was the first guard taken ever out of high school. Many speculated that the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick, would select him but they made a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers that sent that pick to them in which the Lakers used it on him.
With Shaquille O’Neal just signing with the team in the offseason, the Lakers looked towards the duo to lead them into the future. For the first 3 seasons, the team was a playoff contender but would be swept in the ’98 Western Conference Finals and the first round of the ’99 playoffs. However, fortunes changed as Phil Jackson would be named the new head coach in the offseason.
With the Triangle Offense, the Lakers led by the duo of Shaq and Kobe claimed 3 championships in the next 3 years. In the 3rd championship season, he gained a reputation of being a clutch shooter. This was proven in the 2009-2010 season as he had 6 game winning shots.
He may not have the best clutch shooting which he is shooting under 30%, but that stat is not to be taken lightly. If anyone needed a player to provide them a spark down the stretch, the first person to everyone’s mind is Kobe Bryant. What really makes him dangerous is ball handling ability and the way he uses it to create space for the shot or a pass to a wide open teammate.
Even double teaming, sometimes triple teaming him won’t stop him from creating a play that would give the Lakers a lead or a win. Even with his age coming on, he still is one of the fastest players when driving to the lane. Would you want to be in his way coming at 100 MPH to the hoop? I sure as heck wouldn’t!
He proved it recently against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals, as he scored 10 of his 23 points in Game 7 that saw the Lakers comeback down 13 points to win his 5th title. The year before, the Lakers dominated the Orlando Magic in 5 games to claim his 4th championship. For his efforts, he was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player back to back years.
While his quest for his 6th ring is slowly diminishing, there is no doubt that he will do whatever it takes to claim it. Even when he leaves the NBA, he will always be considered one of the game’s greatest players. Controversy aside, you have to be aware of how dangerous he is, especially when the game is on the line.
Whether its making a bucket when it matters, making a stop on defense or creating a play for the win, Kobe Bryant will always have these essential skills. This black mamba has already left its mark in the NBA world as a legend, but until he calls it quits, he will continue to go as a living legend
Jordan Jaye Sanders
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