Kobe Bryant's NBA Career and Helicopter Crash
Kobe Bryant was a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bryant won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), and a two-time NBA Finals MVP. Bryant also led the NBA in scoring twice, and ranks fourth in league all-time regular season and postseason scoring.
Born in Philadelphia and partly raised in Italy, Bryant was recognized as the top American high-school basketball player while at Lower Merion. The son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, he declared for the 1996 NBA draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick; he was then traded to the Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned a reputation as a high-flyer by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and was named an All-Star by his second season. Despite a feud with teammate Shaquille O'Neal, the pair led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. In 2003, Bryant was charged with sexual assault; criminal charges were dropped after the accuser refused to testify, and a lawsuit was settled out of court, with Bryant issuing a public apology and admitting to a sexual encounter he maintained was consensual.
Bryant's four NBA All-Star Game MVP Awards are tied with Bob Pettit for the most in NBA history. He gave himself the nickname "Black Mamba" in the mid-2000s, and the epithet became widely adopted by the general public. At the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, he won two gold medals as a member of the U.S. national team.
On February 2, 2009, Kobe scored 81 points with a spectacular performance in a win against the Toronto Raptors, and the second most points in a single NBA game. Here are the highlights of that game, "81 points in 3 minutes":
Kobe's 20 year historic NBA career include 4th on the all time scoring, 5 NBA World Championships, 18 time All Star, 15 time member of the All NBA Team, 12 time member of the All-Defensive team, One NBA MVP in 2008, two NBA Finals MVP's, twenty six 50+ point games and two Olympic Gold Medals. He also has two jersey numbers retired at Staples Center (8 and 24) and will be inducted posthumously into the NBA Hall of Fame this August.
His dazzling performances on the court and too numerous to mention, but here is a clip with 10 of his top plays:
On his final and epic performance, on April 13, 2016, Kobe scored 60 points for a comeback win against the Utah Jazz. He left the game on his own terms, marked by his memorable "Mamba Out" Farewell Speech:
He gave himself the nickname "Black Mamba" in the mid-2000s, and the epithet became widely adopted by the general public. At the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, he won two gold medals as a member of the U.S. national team. In 2018, he won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for the film "Dear Basketball" (2017):
Bryant died, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, in a helicopter crash at Calabasas, California in January 2020. Here is a clip of CBS news coverage following the helicopter crash on January 26, 2020:
Here is a clip of ABC news coverage following the helicopter crash on January 26, 2020:
A number of tributes and memorials were subsequently issued, including renaming the All-Star MVP Award in his honor. In 2021, Bryant was honored as one of the greatest players in league history, being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. He was posthumously voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.
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