On the 26th of January 2020, the sporting world lost one of its icons when former Los Angeles Laker, Kobe Bryant perished in a helicopter crash at 41-years-old. The Black Mamba’s work rate and dedication to winning saw him win five NBA championships throughout his illustrious career, let’s take a look back at moments that made the Mamba!
Draft Dream Come True!
In 1996, the Charlotte Hornets selected a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant with the 13th overall pick of the NBA Draft. The Hornets would make the decision to trade the Philidelphia native for center Vlade Divac before draft night was over, Bryant’s new home was the Los Angeles Lakers where he would remain for his 20-year career.
Rookie vs Veteran
In 1997 a fresh faced guard takes to the court for his toughest game of the season against the greatest basketball player of all time Michael Jordan. The rookie and the veteran went head to head that night as Jordan got the better of Bryant, the two bonded over a shared desire to win at all costs.
Slam Dunk Champion
1997 also saw the 18-year-old claim the NBA All-Star Game Slam Dunk title after beating out the likes of Ray Akken, Chris Carr, Darvin Ham and Bob Sura. The teenager became the youngest Slam Dunk Champion in history following multiple gravity defying dunks infront of Cleveland’s then Gund Arena.
First NBA championship
Kobe Bean Bryant won his first of five NBA Championships with the Lakers defeating the Indiana Pacers. Kobe teamed up with Shaquille O’Neal creating one of the most dominant dynasty’s in NBA history. In his first taste of the prestigious NBA finals the Black Mamba averaged 15.6 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game and 4.2 assists per game.
Most Valuable Player
Bryant received the MVP award for the 2009 season at the age of 30, despite approaching the end of his career he proved that age didn’t matter if you work hard. The Laker will be remembered for his awe inspiring work ethic and overall love for the game of basketball. His 2009 finals win against the Boston Celtics encapsulates the never say die attitude we associate with Bryant, despite his age and despite the obstacle in front of him he tried his best on and off the court.
Final Farewell 60
On April 13 2016, Kobe played in his last game and in a packed out Staples Center the Mamba gave fans one last enduring memory of greatness he dropped 60 points against the Utah Jazz at 37 years old. A truly fitting way for one of the league’s greatest players to leave the sport.