Oct. 27, 2009 31 years, 65 days
While season openers are always special, the 2009 edition went beyond that even before tipoff, as Kobe Bryant placed 14 white diamonds on his finger in the form of a championship ring for winning the previous year’s title.
Even without Pau Gasol, who sat out with a hamstring strain, the emotions of Ring Night couldn’t weigh down the Lakers — especially Bryant, who torched the Clippers for 33 points in a 99-92 victory.
Playing under the Lakers’ newly unveiled 15th championship banner, the Lakers played like the back-to-back champs they would become that year. Bryant shot 11-of-26 from the field, while punishing the Clippers at the foul line (11-of-12). He also collected eight rebounds and swiped four steals.
The Lakers blitzed their Staples Center neighbors early for a 10-point lead after one quarter, but the Clippers managed to hang around thanks to a 26-17 third quarter. Still, Bryant’s confidence in his title-winning squad didn’t waver.
"I felt we had control of the game," Bryant told reporters, "even when it was a one-point game."
Meanwhile, LA’s starting frontcourt, Andrew Bynum (26 points, 13 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (16 points, 13 rebounds), picked up the workload in Gasol’s absence.
Kobe performances on this day in history: