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1996 NBA Draft

The first guard to ever be taken out of high school, Bryant was chosen as the 13th overall draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996. According to Arn Tellem, Bryant's agent at the time, Bryant playing for the Charlotte Hornets was "an impossibility".([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant)  However, Bill Branch, the Hornets' head scout at the time, said that the Hornets agreed to trade their draft selection to the Lakers before picking Bryant. The teams agreed to the trade the day before the draft and the Lakers did not tell the Hornets who to select until five minutes before the pick was made. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) Branch said that prior to the trade agreement, the Hornets never even considered drafting Bryant. Prior to the draft, Bryant had worked out in Los Angeles, in which he scrimmaged against former Lakers players Larry Drew and Michael Cooper, and according to then-Laker manager Jerry West "marched over these people(wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) On July 1, 1996, West traded his starting center, Vlade Divac, to the Hornets in exchange for Bryant's draft rights. Since he was still 17 at the time of the draft, his parents had to cosign his contract with the Lakers until he was able to sign his own when he turned 18 before the season began(wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant).

First three seasons (1996–99)

 During Bryant rookie season, Bryant mostly came off the bench behind guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. At the time he became the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game (a record since broken by Jermaine O'Neal and Andrew Bynum), and also became the youngest NBA starter ever.[ [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]27] Initially, Bryant played limited minutes, but as the season continued, he began to see some more playing time. By the end of the season, he averaged 15.5 minutes a game. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant).During the All-Star weekend, Bryant was the winner of the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, becoming the youngest player to be named the slam dunk champion at the age of 18. Bryant's performance throughout the year earned him a spot on the NBA All Rookie second team with fellow bench teammate Travis Knight. His final minutes of the season ended in disaster when he shot 3 air balls at crucial times in the game.[ [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]14] He missed the first shot to win the game in the 4th quarter and 2 three-pointers to tie the game in the last minute of overtime. With that the Utah Jazz ended the playoffs for the Lakers in the second round. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant). Shaquille O'Neal commented years later that "[Bryant] was the only guy who had the guts at the time to take shots like that." In Bryant's second season, he received more playing time and began to show more of his abilities as a talented young guard. As a result Bryant's point averages more than doubled from 7.6 to 15.4 points per game. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant).Bryant would see an increase in minutes when the Lakers "played small", which would feature Bryant playing small forward along side the guards he'd usually back up. Bryant was the runner-up for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, and through fan voting, he also became the youngest NBA All-Star starter in NBA history. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant).He was joined by fellow teammates Shaquille O'Neal, Nick Van Exel, and Eddie Jones, making it the first time since 1983 that four players on the same team were selected to play in the same All-Star Game. Bryant's 15.4 points per game was the highest of any non-starter in the season(wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant).
The 1998–99 season marked Bryant's emergence as a premiere guard in the league. With starting guards Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones traded, Bryant started every game for the lockout-shortened 50 game season(wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant). During the season, Bryant signed a 6-year contract extension worth $70 million. This kept him with the Lakers until the end of the 2003–04 season. Even at an early stage of his career sportswriters were comparing his skills to that of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant).The playoff results, however, were no better, as the Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semi-finals(wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant).

Three-peat (1999–2002)

Bryant was a member of the Lakers teams that won three consecutive NBA Championships from 2000 to 2002.
Bryant's fortunes would soon change when Phil Jackson became coach for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] After years of steady improvement, Bryant became one of the premier shooting guards in the league, earning appearances in the league's All-NBA, All-Star, and All-Defensive teams. The Los Angeles Lakers became true championship contenders under Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, who formed a legendary center-guard combination. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Jackson utilized the triangle offense he used to win six championships with the Chicago Bulls, which would help both Bryant and O'Neal rise to the elite class of the NBA. The three resulting championships won consecutively in 2000, 2001, and 2002 further proved such a fact. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Bryant started the 1999–2000 season sidelined for six weeks due to an injury to his hand in a preseason game against the Washington Wizards. With Bryant back and playing over 38 minutes a game, he saw an increase in all statistical categories in the 1999–2000 season. This included leading the team in assists per game and steals per game. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]The duo of O'Neal and Bryant backed with a strong bench led to the Lakers winning 67 games, tied for fifth-most in NBA history. This followed with O'Neal winning the MVP and Bryant being named to the All-NBA Team Second Team and All-NBA Defensive Team for the first time in his career (the youngest player ever to receive defensive honors). [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] While playing second fiddle to O'Neal in the playoffs, Bryant had some clutch performances including a 25 point, 11 rebound, 7 assist, 4 block game in game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. He also threw an alley-oop pass to O'Neal to clinch the game and the series. In the 2000 NBA Finals against the Indiana Pacers, Bryant injured his ankle in the second quarter of game 2 and missed the rest of the game and game 3. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]In game 4, Bryant scored 22 points in the second half, and led the team to an overtime victory as O'Neal fouled out of the game. Bryant scored the winning shot to put the Lakers ahead 120–118. With a game 6 victory, the Lakers won their first championship since 1988.
Statistically, the 2000–01 season saw Bryant perform similarly to the previous year except Bryant was averaging 6 more points a game (28.5). It was also the year when disagreements between Bryant and O'Neal began to surface. Once again he led the team in assists with 5 per game. The Lakers however, only won 56 games, an 11 game drop off from last year. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] The Lakers would respond by going 15–1 in the playoffs. They easily swept the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs, before losing their first game against the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime. They would go on to win the next 4 games and bring their second championship to Los Angeles in as many seasons. During the playoffs Bryant played heavy minutes which brought his stats up to 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] In the playoffs teammate O'Neal declared Bryant the best player in the league. Bryant ended up making the All NBA Second team and All NBA Defensive Team for the second year in a row. In addition, he was also voted to start in the NBA All-Star Game for the 3rd year in a row (no game in 1999) [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
In the 2001–02 season, Bryant played 80 games for the first time in his career. He continued his all-round play by averaging 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]He also had a career high 46.9% shooting and once again led his team in assists. While making the All-Star team and All-NBA Defensive team again, he was also promoted to the All-NBA First Team for the first time in his career. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]The Lakers won 58 games that year and finished second place in the Pacific Division behind in-state rival Sacramento Kings. Bryant was suspended one game after he punched Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers after the Lakers' March 1, 2002 victory over the Pacers[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
The road to the Finals would prove a lot tougher than the record run the Lakers had the previous year. While the Lakers swept the Trail Blazers and defeated the Spurs 4–1, the Lakers did not have home court advantage against the Sacramento Kings. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]The series would stretch to 7 games, the first time this happened to the Lakers since the Western Conference Finals in the 2000 NBA Playoffs. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] However, the Lakers were able to beat their division rivals and make their third consecutive NBA Finals appearance. In the 2002 Finals, Bryant averaged 26.8 points, 51.4% shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game, which included scoring a quarter of the teams points. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] At age 23, Bryant became the youngest player to win three championships. Bryant's play was notable and praised for his performance in the 4th quarter of games, specifically the last 2 rounds of the playoffs. This cemented Bryant's reputation as a clutch player[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].

Coming up short (2002–04)

In the 2002–03 season, Bryant averaged 30 points per game and embarked on a historic run, posting 40 or more points in nine consecutive games while averaging 40.6 in the entire month of February. In addition, he averaged 6.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, all career highs up to that point. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Bryant was once again voted on to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive 1st teams, and came in third place in voting for the MVP award. After finishing 50–32 in the regular season, the Lakers foundered in the playoffs and lost in the Western Conference semi-finals to the eventual NBA champions San Antonio Spurs in six games. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
In the following 2003–04 season, the Lakers were able to acquire NBA All-Stars Karl Malone, and Gary Payton to make another push at the NBA Championship. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Before the season began, Bryant was arrested for sexual assault. This caused Bryant to miss some games due to court appearances or attend court earlier in the day and travel to play games later in same day. In the final game of the regular season the Lakers played the Portland Trail Blazers. Bryant made two buzzer beaters to win the game and the Pacific Division title. At the end of the fourth quarter, Bryant made a three-pointer as time ran out to tie the game and send it into over time. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] The game eventually went to a second over time and Bryant made another three pointer as time expired to lift the Lakers past the Trail Blazers 105–104. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
With a starting lineup of four future Hall of Famers, O'Neal, Malone, Payton, and Bryant, the Lakers were able to reach the NBA Finals. In the Finals, they were defeated in five games by the Detroit Pistons, who won their first championship since 1990. In that series, Bryant averaged 22.6 points per game and 4.4 assists. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] He shot a mere 35.1% from the field. Phil Jackson's contract as coach was not renewed, and Rudy Tomjanovich took over. Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant. The following day, Bryant declined an offer to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and re-signed with the Lakers on a seven-year contract. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]

Playoffs disappointments (2004–07)

Bryant was closely scrutinized and criticized during the 2004–05 season with his reputation badly damaged from all that had happened over the previous year. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] A particularly damaging salvo came when Phil Jackson wrote The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]The book detailed the events of the Lakers' tumultuous 2003–04 season and has a number of criticisms of Bryant. In the book Jackson called Bryant "uncoachable". Midway through the season, Rudy Tomjanovich suddenly resigned as Lakers coach, citing the recurrence of health problems and exhaustion. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Without Tomjanovich, stewardship of the remainder of the Lakers' season fell to career assistant coach Frank Hamblen. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Despite the fact that Bryant was the league's second leading scorer at 27.6 points per game, the Lakers floundered and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The year signified a drop in Bryant's overall status in the NBA, as he did not make the NBA All-Defensive Team and was also demoted to the All-NBA Third Team. During the season, Bryant also engaged in public feuds with Ray Allen and Karl Malone. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
The 2005–06 NBA season would mark a crossroads in Bryant's basketball career. Despite past differences with Bryant, Phil Jackson returned to coach the Lakers. Bryant endorsed the move, and by all appearances, the two men worked together well the second time around, leading the Lakers back into the playoffs. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant's individual scoring accomplishments posted resulted in the finest statistical season of his career. On December 20, 2005, Bryant scored 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Entering the fourth quarter, Bryant had outscored the entire Mavericks team 62–61, the only time a player has done this through three quarters since the advent of the 24-second shot clock. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] When the Lakers faced the Miami Heat on January 16, 2006, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal made headlines by engaging in handshakes and hugs before the game, signifying a change in the feud that had festered between the two players. A month later, at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, the two were seen laughing together. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant scored a career high of 81-points against the Toronto Raptors in Staples Center, second highest single scoring performance in NBA history, surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
On January 22, 2006, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points in a victory against the Toronto Raptors. In addition to breaking the previous franchise record of 71 set by Elgin Baylor, Bryant's 81-point game was the second highest point total in NBA history, surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] In that same month, Bryant also became the first player since 1964 to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games, joining Chamberlain and Baylor as the only players ever to do so. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] For the month of January, Bryant averaged 43.4 points per game the eighth highest single month scoring average in NBA history and highest for any player other than Chamberlain. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] By the end of the 2005–06 season, Bryant set Lakers single-season franchise records for most 40-point games (27) and most points scored (2,832). He won the league's scoring title for the first time, posting a scoring average of (35.4). [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Bryant finished in fourth place in the voting for the 2006 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, but received 22 first place votes—second only to winner Steve Nash. The Los Angeles Lakers posted a 45–37 record, an eleven-game improvement over the previous season, and the entire squad seemed to be clicking. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
Later in the season, it was reported that Bryant would change his jersey number from 8 to 24 at the start of the 2006–07 NBA season. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant's first high school number was 24 before he switched to 33. After the Lakers' season ended, Bryant said on TNT that he wanted 24 as a rookie, but it was unavailable, as was 33, retired with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant wore 143 at the Adidas ABCD camp, and chose 8 by adding those numbers.  In the first round of the playoffs, the Lakers played well enough to reach a 3–1 series lead over the Phoenix Suns, culminating with Bryant's OT-forcing and game-winning shots in Game 4. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]They came within six seconds of eliminating the second-seeded Suns in Game 6, however, they lost that game 126 to 118 in overtime. Despite Bryant's 27.9 points per game in the series, the Lakers broke down, and ultimately fell to the Suns in seven games. Bryant received criticism for only taking three shots in the second half of the 90–121 loss to Phoenix in Game 7.  In the 2006 off-season, Bryant had knee surgery, preventing him from participating in the 2006 FIBA World Championship tournament. Bryant scored 50 points or more in four consecutive games and ten total in the 2006–07 season.During the 2006–07 season, Bryant was selected to his 9th All-Star Game appearance, and on February 18, he logged 31 points, 6 assists, and 6 steals, earning his second career All-Star Game MVP trophy. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Over the course of the season, Bryant became involved in a number of on court incidents. On January 28 while attempting to draw contact on a potential game winning jumpshot, he flailed his arm striking San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginóbili in the face with his elbow. Following a league review, Bryant was suspended for the subsequent game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. The basis given for the suspension was that Bryant had performed an "unnatural motion" in swinging his arm backwards Later, on March 6, he seemed to repeat the motion, this time striking Minnesota Timberwolves guard Marko Jarić. On March 7, the NBA handed Bryant his second one-game suspension. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] In his first game back on March 9, he elbowed Kyle Korver in the face which was retroactively re-classified as a Type 1 flagrant foul[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
On March 16, Bryant scored a season-high 65 points in a home game against the Portland Trail Blazers, which helped end the Lakers 7-game losing streak. This was the second best scoring performance of his 11-year career. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]The following game, Bryant recorded 50 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves after which he scored 60 points in a road win against the Memphis Grizzlies—becoming the second Laker to score three straight 50-plus point games, a feat not seen since Michael Jordan last did it in 1987. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] The only other Laker to do so was Elgin Baylor, who also scored 50+ in three consecutive contests in December 1962. In the following day, in a game against the New Orleans Hornets, Bryant scored 50 points, making him the second player in NBA history to have 4 straight 50 point games behind Wilt Chamberlain, who is the all-time leader with seven consecutive 50 point games twice. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant finished the year with a total of ten 50-plus point games, becoming the only player beside Wilt Chamberlain in 1961–62 and 1962–63 to do so in one season. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]He also won his second straight scoring title that season. Throughout the 2006–07 season, Bryant's jersey became the top selling NBA jersey in the United States and China. A number of journalists have attributed the improved sales to Bryant's new number, as well as his continuing All-Star performance on the court. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] In the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers were once again eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns, 4–1

MVP year (2007–08)On May 27, 2007, ESPN reported that Bryant stated that he wanted to be traded if Jerry West did not return to the team with full authority Bryant later confirmed his desire for West's return to the franchise, but denied stating that he would want to be traded if that does not occur. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]However, three days later, on Stephen A. Smith's radio program, Bryant expressed anger over a Lakers "insider" who claimed that Bryant was responsible for Shaquille O'Neal's departure from the team, and publicly stated, "I want to be traded." [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Three hours after making that statement, Bryant stated in another interview that after having a conversation with head coach Phil Jackson, he has reconsidered his decision and backed off his trade request. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant would later be shown on an infamous amateur video saying that center Andrew Bynum should have been traded for All-Star Jason Kidd. Bryant's Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in 6 games during the 2008 NBA Finals[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].

On December 23, 2007, Bryant became the youngest player (29 years, 122 days) to reach 20,000 points, in a game against the New York Knicks, in Madison Square Garden. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Despite an injury to his shooting hand's small finger, described as a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament, an avulsion fracture, and a volar plate injury at the MCP joint" that occurred in a game on February 5, 2008, Bryant played all 82 games of the regular season instead of opting for surgery. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Regarding his injury, he stated, "I would prefer to delay any surgical procedure until after our Lakers season, and this summer's Olympic Games. But, this is an injury that myself [sic] and the Lakers' medical staff will just have to continue to monitor on a day-to-day basis." In early September 2008, Bryant decided not to have surgery to repair the injury[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
Leading his team to a West best 57–25 record, they swept the Nuggets in the first round and on May 6, 2008, Bryant was officially announced as the NBA Most Valuable Player award, his first for his career. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]He said, "It's been a long ride. I'm very proud to represent this organization, to represent this city." [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Jerry West, who was responsible for bringing Bryant to the Lakers, was on hand at the press conference to observe Bryant receive his MVP trophy from NBA commissioner David Stern. He stated, "Kobe deserved it. He's had just another great season. Doesn't surprise me one bit." In addition to winning his MVP award, Bryant was the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA team on May 8, 2008 for the third straight season and sixth time in his career. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]He would then headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team with Kevin Garnett, receiving 52 points overall including 24 first-place nods, earning his eighth selection[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
The Lakers concluded the 2007–08 regular season with a 57–25 record, finishing first in the Western Conference and setting up themselves for a first-round contest against the Nuggets. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] In Game 1, Bryant, who said he made himself a decoy through most of the game, scored 18 of his 32 points in the final 8 minutes to keep Los Angeles safely ahead[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]. That made Denver the first 50-win team to be swept out of the first round of the playoffs since the Memphis Grizzlies fell in four to the San Antonio Spurs in 2004. In the first game of the next round against the Jazz, Bryant scored 38 points as the Lakers beat the Jazz in Game 1. The Lakers won the next game as well, but dropped Games 3 and 4, even with Bryant putting up 33.5 points per game. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] The Lakers then won the next two games to win the semifinals in 6. This set up a Western Conference Finals berth against the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers defeated the Spurs in 5 games, sending themselves to the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. This marked the fifth time in Bryant's career and the first time without Shaquille O'Neal to go to the NBA Finals. The Lakers then lost to the Boston Celtics in 6 games[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
Repeat (2008–10)
Bryant set a Madison Square Garden record with 61 points
In the 2008–09 season, the Lakers opened the campaign by winning their first seven games. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Bryant led the team to tie the franchise record for most wins to start the season going 17–2, and by the middle of December they compiled a 21–3 record. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] He was selected to his eleventh consecutive All-Star Game as a starter, and was named the Western Conference Player of the Month for December and January in addition to being named Western Conference Player of the week three times. In a game against the Knicks on February 2, 2009, Bryant scored 61 points, setting a record for the most points scored at Madison Square Garden. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] During the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, Bryant who tallied 27 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals was awarded All-Star Game co-MVP with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal. The Lakers finished the regular season with the best record in the west with a 65–17 record. Bryant was runner-up in the MVP voting behind LeBron James and was selected to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team for the seventh time in his career[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
Bryant at the championship parade of the 2009 NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers
In the playoffs, the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz in five games and the Houston Rockets in seven games in the opening two rounds. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]After finishing off the Denver Nuggets in the Conference Finals in six games, the Lakers earned their second straight trip to the NBA Finals where they defeated the Orlando Magic in five games. Bryant was awarded his first NBA Finals MVP trophy upon winning his fourth championship, achieving series averages: 32.4 points, 7.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] He became the first player since Jerry West in the 1969 NBA Finals to average at least 32.4 points and 7.4 assists for a finals seriesand the first since Michael Jordan to average 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for a title-winning team in the finals[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
During the 2009–10 season, Bryant made six game-winning shots including a buzzer-beating, one-legged three point shot against the Miami Heat on December 4, 2009. Bryant considered the shot one of the luckiest he has made. A week later, Bryant suffered an avulsion fracture in his right index finger in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite the injury, Bryant elected to continue playing with it, rather than take any time off to rest the injury. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Five days after his finger injury, he made another game winning shot, after missing on an opportunity in regulation, this time against the Milwaukee Bucks in an overtime game Bryant also became the youngest player (31 years, 151 days) to reach 25,000 points during the season, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] He continued his dominant clutch plays making yet another game winning three-pointer against the Sacramento Kings and what would be the game-winning field goal against the Boston Celtics. The following day, he surpassed Jerry West to become the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]After being sidelined for five games from an ankle injury, Bryant made his return and made another clutch three-pointer to give the Lakers a one point lead with four seconds remaining against the Memphis Grizzlies. Two weeks later, he made his sixth game-winning shot of the season against the Toronto Raptors. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
Bryant shoots a left-handed floater over Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic on January 18, 2010On April 2, 2010, Bryant signed a three-year contract extension worth $87 million. Bryant finished the regular season missing four of the final five games, due to injuries to his knee and finger. Bryant suffered multiple injuries throughout the season and as a result, missed nine games. The Lakers began the playoffs as the number one seed in the Western Conference against the Oklahoma City Thunder, eventually defeating them in six games. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]The Lakers swept the Utah Jazz in the second roundand advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they faced Phoenix Suns. In Game 2, Bryant finished the game with 13 assists, setting a new playoff career high; it was the most assists by a Laker in the playoffs since Magic Johnson had 13 in 1996. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] The Lakers went on to win the series in six games capturing the Western Conference Championship and advancing to the NBA Finals for a third straight season. In a rematch against the 2008 Champion Boston Celtics, Bryant, despite shooting 6 for 24 from the field, led the Lakers back from a thirteen-point third quarter deficit in Game 7 to win the championship; he scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, and finished the game with 15 rebounds. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant won his fifth championship and earned his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award. This marked the first time the Lakers won a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Bryant said that this was the most satisfying of all of his five championships[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]

2010–11 season

The Lakers started the 2010–11 season by winning their first eight games. In his ninth game of the season, playing against the Denver Nuggets, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 26,000 career points. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant also recorded his first triple double since January 21, 2009. ( www.basketball-reference.com ) On January 30 against the Celtics, he become the youngest player to score 27,000 pointsOn February 1, 2011, Bryant became one of seven players with at least 25,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 5,000 assists. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] In Boston on
February 10, Bryant scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half as the Lakers rallied from an early 15-point deficit for a 92–86 win over the Celtics.( www.basketball-reference.com ) It was the Lakers' first victory of the season against one of the league's top four teams, as they entered the game 0–5 in previous matchups and had been outscored by an average of 11 points. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant, selected to his 13th straight All-Star game after becoming the leading vote-getter, had 37 points, 14 rebounds, and three steals in the 2011 All-Star Game and won his fourth All-Star MVP, tying Hall of Famer Bob Pettit for the most All-Star MVP awards. During the season, Bryant moved from 12th to 6th place on the NBA all-time career scoring list, passing John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes, and Moses Malone. Bryant finished the season averaging less than 20 shots a game, his fewest since the 2003–04 season
On April 13, 2011, the NBA fined Bryant $100,000 for directing a gay slur at referee Bennie Adams in frustration in the previous day's game. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation praised the NBA's decision to fine Bryant, and the Human Rights Campaign said that Bryant's language was a "disgrace" and "distasteful". Bryant stated that he was open to discussing the matter with gay rights groups and wanted to appeal his fine. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]He later apologized for the use of the word Bryant and other Lakers appeared in a Lakers public service announcement denouncing Bryant's behavior The team's quest for another three-peat was ended when they were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] The Mavericks would go on to win the 2011 NBA Finals.

International career

Bryant in a game against China at the 2008 Summer Olympics
Kobe Bryant declined to play in the 2000 Olympics due to getting married in the off-season. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] He also decided not to play in the 2002 FIBA World Championship Bryant was originally selected for the FIBA Americas Championship 2003 but withdrew due to surgeries and was replaced by Vince Carter.  [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]In the following summer, he had to withdraw from the Olympic team because of his legal case. Along with LeBron James, he was one of the first two players to publicly named to the 2006–2008 U.S. preliminary roster in 2006 by Jerry Colangelo. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] However, he was once again sidelined after knee surgery and didn't participate in the 2006 FIBA World Championship[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
Bryant's senior international career with the United States national team finally began in 2007. He was a member of the 2007 USA Men's Senior National Team and USA FIBA Americas Championship Team that finished 10–0, won gold and qualified the United States men for the 2008 Olympics. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] He started in all 10 of the USA's FIBA Americas Championship games. He finished third on the team for made and attempted free throws, ranked fourth for made field goals, made 3-pointers. Among all FIBA Americas Championship competitors, Bryant is ranked 15th in scoring, 14th in assists, and eighth in steals. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Bryant scored double-digits in eight of the 10 games played. Bryant also made the game winning 14 feet (4.3 m) jumper above the foul line with seconds left in the game. He currently averages a .530 shooting percentage, with 16.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.1 assists.
As a part of his international expansion, he is also featured in a Chinese reality TV show, called the Kobe Mentu show, which documents Chinese basketball players on different teams going through drills, preparing to play each other while Bryant gives advice and words of encouragement to the players while they practice[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
On June 23, 2008, he was named to the USA Men's Senior National Team for the 2008 Summer Olympics. This was his first time going to the Olympics. Bryant scored 20 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, along with six assists, as Team USA defeated Spain 118–107 in the gold medal game of the 2008 Summer Olympics on August 24, 2008, for its first gold medal in a worldwide international competition since the 2000 Olympics. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]He averaged 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting .462 from the field in eight Olympic contests.
Bryant has committed to playing for the national team at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Player profile

Bryant shoots over Shane Battier.
Bryant is a shooting guard who is capable of playing the small forward position. He is considered one of the most complete players in the NBA, has been selected to every All-NBA Team since 1999, and has been featured in the last twelve NBA All-Star gamesSports writers and sports casters have frequently compared Bryant to Michael Jordan. In 2007, an ESPN poll of sportswriters voted him as the second best shooting guard in NBA history behind Jordan. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
Kobe is a prolific scorer, averaging 25.3 points per game for his career, along with 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.5 steals (as of the end of the 2010–2011 regular season) He is known for his ability to create shots for himself and is a standout three-point shooter, sharing the single-game NBA record for three pointers made with twelve. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Bryant is often cited as one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA, though his 45.4% career field goal average is considered moderate. He utilizes his wide array of moves and shots to elude defenders and score from virtually anywhere on the floor. Some of Bryant's best moves are his turnaround jump shot, and his ability to post up his defenders and score with a fadeaway jumpshot. Chris Ballard, a Sports Illustrated NBA writer, describes a "jab step-and-pause" as a move Bryant uses where he jabs his non-pivot foot forward to let the defender relax and instead of bringing the jab foot back, he pushes off it and drive around his opponent to get to the basket. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
Aside from his scoring ability, he has established himself as a standout defender, having made the All-Defensive first or second team eleven of the last twelve seasons. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant has also been noted being one of the premier clutch performers in the NBA. For nine consecutive seasons, Bryant has been selected by an NBA GM survey as the player they most want taking the shot.

Childhood and youth

Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the youngest of three children and the only son of former Philadelphia 76ers player and former Los Angeles Sparks head coach Joe "Jellybean" Bryant and Pamela Cox Bryant. He is also the maternal nephew of John "Chubby" Cox. His parents named him after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan, which they saw on a restaurant menu. Bryant was raised Roman Catholic. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] When Bryant was six, his father left the NBA and moved his family to Italy to begin playing professional basketball. Bryant became accustomed to his new lifestyle and learned to speak Italian and Spanish fluently. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]During summers, Bryant would come back to the United States to play in a basketball summer leagueHe started playing basketball when he was 3 years old, and his favorite team growing up was the Lakers. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Bryant's grandfather would mail him videos of NBA games, which Bryant would study At an early age he also learned to play soccer; his favorite team is AC Milan. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] He has said that if he had stayed in Italy, he would have tried to become a professional soccer player; Bryant is a big fan of former FC Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard and their former player Ronaldinho. Upon Joe Bryant's retirement from playing basketball in 1991, the Bryant family moved back to the United States[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].

High school

Bryant's retired No.33 jersey and banner at the Lower Merion High School gym.
Bryant earned national recognition during a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School located in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] As a freshman, he played for the varsity (junior and senior) basketball team.  His father coached him his second year of high school. Although during his first year the team was mediocre, the following three years the Aces compiled a 77–13 record, with Bryant playing all five positions. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] At Adidas ABCD camp, Bryant earned the 1995 senior MVP award, while playing alongside future NBA teammate Lamar Odom. While in high school, then 76ers coach John Lucas invited Bryant to work out and scrimmage with the team, where he played one-on-one with Jerry Stackhouse. In his senior year of high school, Bryant led the Aces to their first state championship in 53 years. During the run, he averaged 30.8 points, 12 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.0 steals, and 3.8 blocked shots in leading the Aces to a 31–3 record  He ended his career as Southeastern Pennsylvania's all-time leading scorer at 2,883 points, surpassing both Wilt Chamberlain and Lionel Simmons. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant received several awards for his performance his senior year including being named 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. Bryant's varsity coach, Greg Downer, commented that Bryant was "a complete player who dominates".In 1996, Bryant took R&B singer Brandy Norwood to her senior prom, though the two were, and remain, just friends. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] His SAT score of 1080 would have ensured his basketball scholarship to various top-tier colleges. Ultimately, however, the 17-year-old Bryant made the decision to go directly into the NBA, only the sixth player in NBA history to do so. Bryant's news was met with a lot of publicity at a time when prep-to-pro NBA players were not very common (Kevin Garnett being the only exception in 20 years). [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Bryant has stated that had he decided to go to college after high school, he would have attended Duke University

Kobe Bryant sexual assault case

The Kobe Bryant sexual assault case began in the summer of 2003 when the news media reported that the sheriff's office in Eagle, Colorado had arrested NBA superstar Kobe Bryant in connection with an investigation of a sexual assault complaint filed by 19-year-old hotel employee Katelyn Faber. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Bryant had checked into The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, a hotel in Eagle County, Colorado, on June 30 in advance of having surgery near there on July 2 under Dr. Richard Steadman. Faber accused Bryant of raping her in his hotel room on July 1, the night before the surgery. Bryant admitted to an adulterous sexual encounter with his accuser, but[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] denied the assault allegation. The case was dropped after Faber refused to testify in the case. A separate civil suit was later filed against Bryant by Faber. This was settled out of court and included Bryant's publicly apologizing to Faber, though admitting no guilt on his part. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]

Arrest

Eagle County Sheriff investigators first confronted Bryant with the sexual assault accusation on July 2. During the July 2003 interview with investigators, Bryant stated that the sex was consensual[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
Law enforcement officials collected evidence from Bryant and he agreed to submit to a rape test kit and a voluntary lie detector test. On July 4, Sheriff Joe Hoy issued an arrest warrant for Bryant. Bryant flew from Los Angeles back to Eagle, Colorado to surrender to police. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] He was immediately released on $25,000 bond, and news of the arrest became public two days after that. On July 18, the Eagle County District Attorney's office filed a formal charge against Bryant for sexual assault. If convicted, Bryant faced probation to life in prison[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
After he was formally charged on July 18, Bryant held a news conference in which he adamantly denied having raped Faber. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] With his wife on his side, he confessed, in tears, to having an adulterous sexual encounter with her, but insisted that everything that happened between the two had been consensual. Faber told a friend that "She couldn't believe that his wife was sitting there and apparently didn't care about adultery[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]."

Hearings

As the hearings began, the prosecution accused Bryant's defense team of attacking Faber's credibility. It was revealed that she wore underpants containing another man's semen and pubic hair to her rape exam the day after the alleged incident. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]Detective Doug Winters stated that the yellow underwear she wore to her rape exam contained sperm from another man, along with Caucasian pubic hair. Bryant's defense stated that the exam results showed "compelling evidence of innocence" because the accuser must have had another sexual encounter immediately after the incident. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Faber told investigators that she grabbed dirty underwear by mistake from her laundry basket when she left her home for the examination. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]On the day Faber was examined, she said she hadn’t showered since the morning of the incident. The examination found evidence of vaginal trauma, which Bryant’s defense team claimed was consistent with having sex with multiple partners in two days[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].
The evidence recovered by police included the T-shirt that Bryant wore the night of the incident, which had three small stains of the accuser's blood on it. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]The stains were invisible to the naked eye on the white T-shirt. The smudge was verified to be Faber's blood by DNA testing and probably wasn't menstrual blood because Faber said she had her period two weeks earlier. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]It was revealed that Bryant leaned Faber over a chair to have sex with her, which allegedly caused the bleeding. This became the sex act in question, as Faber claims she told Bryant to stop but he would not, and Bryant claims he stopped after asking if he could ejaculate on her face. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]
Trina McKay, the resort's night auditor, said she saw Faber as she was leaving to go home, and "she did not look or sound as if there had been any problem. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] However, Bobby Pietrack, Faber's high school friend and a bellman at the resort, said she appeared to be very upset, and "told me that Kobe Bryant had forced sex with her[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]."
A few weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin, Faber wrote a letter to Gerry Sandberg apologizing for intentional misstatements and clarifying “mix-ups” she made when first interviewed by Colorado police. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] She wrote that she wanted to make the corrections because she was worried Detective Doug Winters, the lead investigator in the case, did not believe her story. Faber wrote she lied when she told investigators that Bryant forced her to wash her face in his room before she was allowed to leave, stating she never washed her face in his room and instead wrote that she used a mirror near the hotel elevator to clean up her face. [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] She said this was the only thing she “exaggerated.” [([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] She also admitted to lying about having car troubles the day of the incident. In the last paragraph, she wrote that Bryant asked if he could ejaculate on her face and that it was “a degrading comment” and “difficult to talk about” and concluded the letter with this statement[([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]:

Bryant's defense lawyer Pamela Mackey asserted that Faber was taking an anti-psychotic drug for the treatment of schizophrenia at the time of the incident. Faber was hospitalized as a "danger to herself" four months before the alleged sexual assault. ([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Lindsey McKinney, who lived with the accuser, said the woman twice tried to kill herself at school by overdosing on sleeping pills. ([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21] Before the alleged incident, Faber, an aspiring singer, tried out for the television show American Idol with the song "Forgive" by Rebecca Lynn Howard, but failed to advance. ([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]In addition to Faber's moral character and reputation being challenged by Bryant's defense lawyer, she received death threats and hate mail. ([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21]On September 1, 2004 Eagle County District Judge Terry Ruckriegle dismissed the charges against Bryant, after prosecutors spent more than $200,000 preparing for trial, because Faber informed them that she was unwilling to testify([wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant) 21].

Settlement

Before the case was scheduled to go to trial, Faber filed a civil lawsuit against Bryant over the incident on August 10. The two sides ultimately settled that lawsuit, with specific terms of the settlement being undisclosed to the public. Bryant did, however, issue the following statement through his attorney, as part of an agreement with the accuser to dismiss the sexual assault charge.
In conclusion, The L.A Lakers organization has been through ups and downs during the  40’s with George Mikan to the “Showtime” era with Magic Johnson teams to the late 80’s to the Shaquille to Kobe dynasty of the early 21st century, one thing has been consistent about the Lakers organizations that they create strong players and know how to build championship teams. And they still do till this day.

 

© Gabriel Moore 1269 Concord Place Ave, Kalamazoo,MI
Last Update: August 17, 2011
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