Kobe Bryant's Trophy Case: A Look at The Black Mamba's Top Awards & Records
There will always be debate about his status as the greatest ever, but there is no doubt Kobe Bryant is one of the best in Lakers history.
Since he entered the 1996 NBA Draft and joined the Lakers fresh out of high school, he's been collecting hardware and breaking records.
From his five ESPYs to being named TNT NBA Player of the Decade and Sporting News' Athlete of the Decade for the 2000's, Kobe's long list of achievements on the hardwood is nearly impossible to keep up with.
You can decide for yourself whether or not you'd put his accolades up against Micheal Jordan to prove him as the greatest baller of all time.
1997 NBA Dunk Contest Champion
In his debut, Bryant became the youngest player to make an appearance in an NBA game.
Although that record has since been broken by his teammate Andrew Bynum and Jermaine O'Neal, he still holds the honors of being the youngest player to win a dunk contest.
As a rookie, Kobe won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest topping Chris Carr, Michael Finley, Ray Allen, Bob Sura, and Darvin Ham.
NBA Record: Youngest Player To....
He was the youngest to be named to the NBA All-Rookie Team as well as the All-Defensive Team in the 1999-2000 season.
Last but not least, Bryant is the youngest to start in a NBA All-Star Game, as he was voted in by fans in only his second season.
2008 NBA MVP
Surprisingly, Kobe has only won one league MVP.
It came in 2008 after yet another solid season, but unfortunately he couldn't lead his team past the Celtics in his first NBA Finals without Shaq.
He would get another shot at Boston, and two more chances at an even better MVP award.
2x Scoring Champion
Kobe does it all out on the court, but scoring is what he does best. He'll drop in shots that, when released, look like they have no chance of falling through the basket.
Whether backing down a defender, driving to the bucket, or fading for a three he manages to get it done one way or the other. The Black Mamba is simply undefendable.
In back to back years, 2006 and 2007, Bryant led the league in scoring with an average of 35.4 and 31.6 points per game respectively.
13x NBA All-Star
The NBA All-Star Game may not be the most competitive basketball contest you'll ever see, but not everyone gets invited to the party.
Kobe has participated in every All-Star game since he's been in the league except for his rookie season. He ranks seventh among the players with the most appearances, but is only two behind Shaquille O'Neal who sits in second place.
It will be interesting to see if Bryant will last long enough to catch up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who is comfortably in first with nineteen All-Star game selections.
4x All-Star MVP
It may not be the most prestigious award, but being the most valuable player among all-stars has to count for something.
Kobe's won it the most in NBA history, most recently in 2011, but also in 2002, 2007, and in 2009 he shared it with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal who has three.
2nd Most Points In a Game
The NBA's greatest individual performance since Wilt Chamberlain dropped one hundred in a single game.
It was an unbelievable night for the Black Mamba as he rained in three after three and nearly ever shot he put up was good.
I bet even Raptors fans were cheering for him as he proved the meaning behind his self-declared nickname by attacking Toronto's defense with accuracy and speed. Either that or they just shook their heads in embarassment.
Bryant led the Lakers to victory with 55 points in the second half and stunned NBA followers across the nation. I think it's safe to say that no one will ever come closer to Chamberlain's record than Kobe did on January 22, 2006.
5x NBA Champion
With a little help from the big men, Shaq and Pau, Kobe now has enough rings for each finger on his shooting hand.
With Phil Jackson as head coach, the Lakers three-peated, winning in the NBA Finals from 1999-2002.
After a few rough years for the franchise, Jackson returned to the Lakers in 2005. Now they have a shot at another three-peat after knocking off the Magic in 2009 and beating the rival Celtics in game seven of the 2010 NBA Finals.
There is no doubt Kobe is hungry for a sixth ring to tie Michael Jordan and former fellow Laker Kareem Abdul- Jabbar.
2x Finals MVP
Kobe won consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards after leading the Lakers back from a 13 point third quarter deficit in Game 7 against Boston in 2010.
In the 2009 Finals, Kobe averaged 32.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 5.6 rebounds to secure the most valuable player award.
He now has more Finals MVPs than league MVPs, but winning the award as a champion is much more satisfying.
Medals With Team USA
Kobe has two gold medals from his time with Team USA.
He received the first when they won the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, and the second after the U.S. defeated Spain in the gold medal game of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Lakers' Franchise Records
Bryant has more career points, a number over 27,000 that will continue to increase, than any other player in Lakers history. He also holds the record for most total points in the playoffs and in a season for a Laker.
He twice made 23 free throws in a game, also a franchise record.
I just mentioned the highlights because I'd be here all week if I were to list every Laker record that Bryant currently holds.
And He's Still Going
Recent injuries have tried to slow him down, but Kobe has many solid years left in his career. He's tough enough to play through illness and pain, most admirably a broken finger on his shooting hand and he was still able to put up amazing numbers.
Bryant proved that he can still throw down like the young guys in the 2011 All-Star Game, and he has the personal motivation to add to his trophy case in the next few seasons.
When he finally decides to throw away his kicks, the game won't be the same without him and younger stars will compete to surpass him.
However, the age old question will always be, "Who was greater, Kobe or Jordan?".