This article will look at the most impressive performance from each season of Kobe Bryant’s career.
Kobe completed his 15th NBA season last spring, and given the current labor nightmare, no one knows when he will start his 16th.
Thus, I figured there would be no better way for Lakers fans to get their minds off the current lockout than to look back at some of Kobe’s finest moments, hoping we get to see him back on the court as soon as possible.
During his rookie season, in a playoff loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Kobe Bryant scored 22 points.
Not too shabby for a rookie playing in his first postseason.
Going up against Michael Jordan and the defending champion Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant scored what was then a career-high 33 points in 29 minutes of burn.
Unfortunately, the Lakers lost the game to the eventual champions, but Phil Jackson got a firsthand look at the player he would be coaching in a couple of years.
In the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, Kobe Bryant notched a new career high in points, scoring 38 in a victory against the Orlando Magic.
It would be the last time Kobe’s season high in points was less than 40.
After missing Game 3 with an ankle injury, the 21-year-old Kobe Bryant came up huge in Game 4.
Midway through overtime, Shaquille O’Neal fouled out of the game. This forced Bryant to carry the load for the Lakers. Kobe went on to hit numerous clutch shots, giving the Lakers a commanding 3-1 series lead.
The team would go on to win its first championship since 1988.
The 2001 playoffs were somewhat of a coming-out party for Kobe Bryant. Kobe averaged what were then postseason highs in points, rebounds and assists.
Kobe’s best performance that postseason came against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
In a Game 1 victory, Kobe scored 45 points and snagged 10 rebounds en route to the Lakers completing a four-game sweep of Tim Duncan and co.
Kobe Bryant led all Lakers with 30 points in a Game 1 victory over the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals. The Game 1 victory gave the Lakers home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series.
The Lakers eventually won the series in seven games.
In a February 2003 win over the Seattle SuperSonics, Kobe Bryant scored 41 points. It was the ninth consecutive game Kobe scored a minimum of 40 points, including two games with at least 50.
Kobe came up short in his attempt at 10 in a row, scoring 32 points against the Los Angeles Clippers in his next game.
Kobe finished the month of February 2003 with a 40-point scoring average.
After losing the first two games of the 2004 Western Conference semifinals to the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers stormed back to win four in a row, winning the series in six games.
In Game 4, Kobe scored 42 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.
The 2004-05 campaign was a rare disappointing season for the Los Angeles Lakers. The team won only 34 games and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
But Kobe still provided some of the classic “Kobe” moments we all know and love. Kobe nearly notched a triple-double against the Sacramento Kings in November of 2004. Bryant had eight assists and seven rebounds to go along with 40 points.
Yes, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in January of 2006. But as crazy as this might sound, it wasn’t his most impressive performance that season.
A month before the 81-point explosion, Kobe Bryant scored 62 through three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks (the entire Mavericks team only had 61 through three quarters). Given the Lakers were comfortably ahead, Kobe sat out the entire fourth quarter.
At that rate, Kobe would have surpassed his 81-point mark that he would set four weeks later.
Who knows—Kobe may have had a 25-point quarter and flirted with the 90-point mark. The world will never know.
Against the Portland Trail Blazers in March of 2007, Kobe Bryant poured in 65 points. The game was the first win of a five-game winning streak for the Lakers in which Kobe averaged a mind-bending 53 points a game.
Heading into the home stretch of the 2008 season, Kobe Bryant dropped 52 points on the Dallas Mavericks, further strengthening his push for his first MVP award.
Kobe would eventually be named league MVP for the first time in his career.
I know I will get some flak for not picking Kobe’s 61-point performance at Madison Square Garden, but it’s hard to argue against 40 points in an NBA Finals game.
Kobe's 40 gave the Lakers a much-needed Game 1 victory in their series against the Orlando Magic.
In Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant recorded 30 points, six assists and seven rebounds, leading the Lakers to a Game 1 victory against Boston.
In what turned out to be a tough seven-game series, the Game 1 victory proved to be monumental, and without Kobe’s stellar performance, the game and series would have likely turned out differently.
In an early-season game against the Sacramento Kings, Kobe tallied a triple-double, scoring 30 points in addition to recording 10 rebounds and 12 assists.