#8 & #24 Kobe Bryant
In a career that spanned two decades, Kobe Bryant rewrote NBA history while leading the Lakers to the summit of the NBA.
Drafted by Charlotte when he was only 17 years old, Bryant was quickly traded to the Lakers, who believed in his potential to become a superstar.
They were rewarded just three years later when Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the purple and gold to their first championship together. Kobe shined brightest in Game 4 of the Finals when Shaq fouled out of an overtime meeting with Indiana. Bryant took over, scoring 28 points and providing the game-winning basket in the final second.
Bryant went on to help the Lakers to two more championships, averaging 24.6 points against Philadelphia in 2001 and 26.8 points in a 2002 sweep over New Jersey.
Three years after the three-peat concluded, Bryant began led the league in scoring with 35.4 points per game in 2005-06. The following season, he repeated his scoring championship by putting up 31.6 points a night.
However, the following year may have been his finest, as he averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists en route to being named the league’s Most Valuable Player for the sole time in his career.
Bryant would go on to lead the Lakers back into the NBA Finals that season, though they fell to Boston in six games.
But the Lakers would return on a mission, as Bryant guided them to 65-17 record the following season. In his return to the Finals, Kobe singlehandedly dismantled Orlando, putting up 32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists on his way to being chosen as NBA Finals MVP.
Vengeance was the theme for the following season, as the Lakers and Celtics found themselves destined for a rematch of the 2008 Finals. A heated series saw Los Angeles pushed to the brink of elimination, but the Lakers held on to force a winner-take-all Game 7.
In the most important game of his career, Kobe barely pushed the Lakers to victory with 23 points and 15 rebounds in the finale. His averages of 28.6 points, 8.0 boards, 3.9 assists and 2.1 steals crowned him Finals MVP once more.
Bryant remained one of the league’s top weapons for the next few seasons, willing the Lakers to a playoff spot in 2012-13. However, that campaign was cut short by the first major injury of the last part of his career, as he tore his Achilles tendon in a late game against Golden State, though he didn’t leave the court until sinking two free throws to ice the victory.
From there, Bryant found himself constantly dogged by injuries. However, nothing would stop him from a legendary finale on April 13, 2016.
In the last game of his career, Kobe put on a show that only he could provide, dropping 60 points on the Utah Jazz. As a frenzied Staples Center chanted his name, Bryant caught fire in the final two minutes, scoring 13 straight points to rally the Lakers to victory.
As the buzzer sounded on that last performance, Bryant ended his career with one of the most impressive resumes in NBA history.
Five championships. One MVP. Eighteen All-Star selections. Eleven First Team All-NBA nods. Nine All-Defensive First Team honors. Four All-Star Game MVPs. Two Finals MVPs. One Slam Dunk Contest title.
And while he has scored the third-most points in league history (33,643), Bryant also sits as the Lakers’ all-time leader in several categories, including games (1,346), minutes (48,637), 3-pointers (1,827), free throws (8,378) and steals (1,944).
But perhaps the greatest number of Bryant’s career is 20 — the number of seasons he represented the Lakers and no other team.
Through the Years
KOBE BRYANT LAKERS STATS