Kobe Bryant put together an illustrious NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he not only reached tremendous success but established himself as an all-time great. Bryant‘s journey featured winning five NBA championships that further cemented his legacy. However, he fell short of his dream path to eight titles due to one NBA team.
Kobe Bryant’s illustrious NBA career
Bryant played 20 NBA seasons where he firmly established himself as one of the game’s greatest players.
Bryant became an all-time great behind his impeccable work ethic and internal drive to strive for greatness. These factors pushed him to earn five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVP awards, a regular-season MVP award, 15 All-NBA Team selections, 12 NBA All-Defensive Team nods, and his two jersey numbers retired with the Lakers.
His hunger for success also drove him to aspire for tremendously lofty goals regarding NBA championships. However, Bryant’s pathway to surpassing Jordan in titles was halted by one team.
Kobe Bryant blamed 1 team for keeping him from winning 8 NBA titles: ‘We would have probably run the table for a decade’
Bryant entered the league intending to surpass Michael Jordan as the GOAT in status, and the number of championships won.
During his interview on the All The Smoke podcast in January 2020, the 18-time All-Star voiced it angered him that he couldn’t “sit at the table” with Jordan in terms of NBA titles won.
“It pissed me off, but things are what they are,” Bryant said. “You push for a goal and my original goal was to win eight. You push for it and push the best you can, so at the end of the day, you are comfortable with the results and where they landed and ended up. That’s why I could be really comfortable with the career I have had because I worked as hard as I possibly could.
Bryant then added had the San Antonio Spurs not been the well-structured organization with a strong mixture of talent, the Lakers would have won 10 straight NBA championships.
“San Antonio was tough,” Bryant said. “They were tough, so when the playoffs came around, it wasn’t like Shaq and I weren’t on the same page. We were always on the same page. We just got beat. The bigger question should be how many would we have won if the Spurs weren’t the Spurs because we would have probably run the table for a decade.
“The talent, the coaching, and everything in San Antonio was kind of a perfect storm, so if they weren’t in the picture we would have won 10 in a row and they probably say the same thing about us.”
Throughout the 2000s, the Lakers and Spurs dominated the decade, combining for eight championships. It was San Antonio that knocked Los Angeles out in the playoffs in the quest for a four-peat. Meanwhile, the Lakers dominated the end of the decade with back-to-back titles in three straight NBA Finals appearances.
Ultimately, eight or 10 NBA titles is quite a lofty goal, but it’s a what-if that will never have an answer.
NBA legacy sits forever cemented
Although Bryant fell short of his lofty championship goal, it doesn’t impact his place in league history.
He may not be regarded universally as the game’s greatest player, but he’s certainly in the conversation. His two-decade NBA career left an everlasting impact shown through the influence on the generation of talent that followed.
Bryant’s imprint goes well beyond the basketball court as his passing shed light on the many he left a lasting impression on in and out of the realm of sports. Beyond that, his legacy lives on as one of sports’ greatest icons.