Kobe Bryant spent two decades in the NBA and earned many impressive honors. While some of these feats get swept under the rug, like the fact that Bryant was a 12-time All-Defensive Player, others will be valued by NBA fans forever. Of all his impressive achievements, however, the following five stats may take the cake as the most memorable of Bryant’s career.
5. 62 points in three quarters
Lost in the hype of Bryant’s highest-scoring output is the fact that his 81 points might not have been his most impressive feat of the season. On December 25, 2005, Bryant began the most impressive stretch of his career with a night to remember against the Dallas Mavericks, reports ESPN.
Bryant couldn’t miss on this given night, ending the game with 62 points. With no other context, this may seem marginally better than the 60 he dropped in his final game. But Bryant did so in three quarters. When Phil Jackson pulled him, Bryant was single-handedly leading the opposing Mavericks 62-61.
4. Kobe Bryant’s 36 game winners
One can’t talk about Bryant without discussing the number of big shots he hit. While naysayers often criticized him for taking the shot regardless of how smart it was, this was part of the Black Mamba’s legend. Whether a regular-season game or a big moment, chances were Bryant would take the shot.
Some will say Bryant’s 36 game-winners, while the most in NBA history, is tainted by the fact that he shot so many times to achieve it, as 12Up explains. However, his drive to win, even at the expense of missing, is part of Bryant’s brand.
3. 81 points against the Toronto Raptors
While the aforementioned Mavericks game could very well be Bryant’s magnum opus if he played into the fourth quarter, a game against the Toronto Raptors is the one everyone remembers more fondly.
Bryant’s performance wasn’t just a stat-padding walk-off; it wasn’t a player testing his hot hand in a blowout. It began as a desperate attempt to get his team back in the game — and it ended in history.
As ESPN reports, the Lakers were down 63-49 at halftime. Thanks to Bryant’s legendary performance in the second half, however, the team blew out the Raptors 122-104. Bryant was 28-46 from the field and 18-20 from the foul line. No performance encapsulate his mentality like this one.
2. Bryant’s 33,643 career points
Part of the fun of measuring Bryant’s career is the fact that he had so many great scoring outputs. This is why it’s important to remember that while 81, 62, and 36 are impressive, all of them are just a piece of the puzzle. Bryant’s career scoring also holds sentimental value after his untimely passing.
It was only hours before his tragic death that he talked to LeBron James about the current Lakers’ historic night when he passed Bryant’s career scoring. While this will always be a memorable moment, the events of the next 24 hours made this even more special.
1. Five rings for Kobe Bryant
Aside from points, one can’t discuss any numbers surrounding Bryant’s career without mentioning the ultimate goal. Try as some may to downplay the fact that Bryant won five championships, they cannot take away from the fact that he was a major contributor to all of them. Bryant’s rings have long been the rallying cry of his fans and the joke of his detractors.
Some could see Bryant as the harbinger of arguments about rings, as many fans used it to compare him to Michael Jordan, James, and other greats. Whether people credit him fully, the rings were what meant most to Kobe.
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