During his legendary career with the LA Lakers, Kobe Bryant had many battles with the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference playoffs. The five-time champion never lost to the Nuggets in the postseason, and the Denver franchise may have George Karl to blame for that.
Kobe Bryant, who was built from the same cloth as Michael Jordan, took things personally against George Karl after what happened during the 1998 All-Star Game.
Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan put on a show in the 1998 All-Star Game
At Madison Square Garden, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant went at each other in the 1998 All-Star Game. Bryant scored 18 points in 22 minutes, while Jordan put up 23 points to win the MVP award.
Bryant had a blast going up against Jordan. The two forged a strong bond and became brothers. Jordan and Bryant are universally recognized as the two greatest shooting guards in NBA history.
Seattle SuperSonics head coach George Karl was the coach of the West All-Star team in 1998. For whatever reason, he benched Bryant for the entire fourth quarter despite the New York crowd clamoring for the Lakers superstar to play more.
As we saw in The Last Dance docuseries, Michael Jordan used a snub from George Karl to kill the SuperSonics in the 1996 Finals. Just like MJ, Kobe Bryant got his revenge on Karl as well.
Kobe Bryant made sure George Karl and the Nuggets never beat him in the playoffs
Kobe Bryant never wanted the Nuggets to beat him in the playoffs because of George Karl. The Black Mamba was upset about getting benched for the entire fourth quarter of the 1998 All-Star Game.
The Lakers and Nuggets met in the playoffs three times while Karl was coaching in Denver. LA won each series thanks to Bryant, who went nuclear on the Nuggets.
Bryant and the Lakers swept Karl and the Nuggets in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. Kobe averaged 33.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.
In the 2009 Western Conference Finals, a series the Lakers won in six games, Bryant put up 34.0 points, 5.8 boards, and 5.8 assists. LA and Denver faced each other one final time in the first round of the 2012 postseason. The Lakers won in seven games, with Bryant averaging 29.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.0 assists.
Incredibly, George Karl pissed off two of the best players in NBA history in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant during his coaching career. Future NBA coaches may want to stay away from Karl and get advice from other tacticians.
Not a day goes by where the NBA world doesn’t think about The Black Mamba
It’s been more than a year since Kobe Bryant passed away in a tragic helicopter crash. Not a day goes by where the NBA world doesn’t think about the Lakers icon.
Bryant is the best player in Lakers franchise history. He averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists while shooting 44.7% from the field, 32.9% from beyond the arc, and 83.7% from the free-throw line. The Lakers retired both of Bryant’s jerseys and will likely build a statue of him one day.
An 18-time All-Star, Kobe Bryant won five championships with the Lakers and two Finals MVPs. He spent his entire career with the Purple and Gold and is the most popular player in Lakers history.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.