Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant's Greatest Playoff Game-Winning Shots
Kobe Bryant is undeniably one of the greatest players and playoff performers of our generation.
The Black Mamba's time in the NBA is dwindling after every game, and he will most likely say his goodbyes in the next couple of the years.
Let's take a walk down memory lane and relive some of Bryant's best clutch playoff moments.
This list features the top five greatest game-winning shots in his playoff career.
5. 2008 Conference Finals Game 1 vs. Spurs
Bryant hits a short jumper in the paint with 24 seconds left in the game after a Bruce Bowen flop. Classic.
What made this game-winning shot so brilliant was that the Los Angeles Lakers actually came back from 20 points down to take the lead in the last minute of the game—against the San Antonio Spurs, no less. The Lakers ended up winning the series in five games.
Although this was just Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers' comeback changed the momentum of the whole series.
4. 2000 Conference Semifinals Game 2 vs. Suns
This is yet another classic, clutch game-winning shot from the Mamba.
Bryant controls the ball from half court, then goes instantly into an isolation against a smaller defender in Jason Kidd.
He proceeds to dribble out the clock with a Mamba stare-down against Kidd, then initiates a quick crossover and pull-up jumper which swishes in Kidd's face with 2.6 seconds left in the game.
At only 21 years of age, this was the beginning of Bryant's rapid development as one of the league's premier clutch performers.
It's not a coincidence that this was also the first year of the Kobe-Shaq era that saw the duo lead the Lakers to a championship.
3. 2002 Conference Semifinals Game 4 vs. Spurs
The playoff matchup between the Lakers and Spurs was unquestionably one of the greatest Western Conference rivalries in the past two decades.
Unlike one of the previous moments, this one featured a younger Kobe Bryant hitting a rather unconventional game-winning shot, even for his tastes.
This was a relatively broken possession, with Bryant dribbling the ball off of his shoe and Derek Fisher picking it up and dribbling six times, before throwing up a shot with Bowen all over him.
Bryant then skies for the offensive rebound and lays in the game winning shot with 5.1 seconds left in the game to give the Lakers a 3-1 series lead.
To this day, I'm pretty sure he would still remember not getting the ball back, instead of his actual game-winning put-back.
2. 2004 Finals Game 2 vs. Pistons
Kobe Bryant's long three-point haul with a hand in his face might have been the worst last shot in basketball—if it didn't go in, that is.
Much like the game winner over Jason Kidd, the Black Mamba stares down his prey, rises up early and launches the triple after seeing Richard Hamilton back off just a little bit to give him enough space to see the rim. His incredible shot gave the Lakers the momentum and they proceeded to win the game in overtime to tie the series at 1-1.
1. 2006 Conference Quarterfinals vs. Suns
Also, unlike every other Kobe Bryant game-winner, the Lakers were considered the clear underdogs coming into the series.
WIth the help of Smush Parker (yes, Smush Parker), who stole the ball from Nash on an inbound pass, Bryant connected on a very difficult sidestep floater without using the backboard, sending the game into overtime.
Then in overtime, Bryant single-handedly won the game with a pull-up jumper at the free-throw line over Raja Bell and the outstretched arm of Boris Diaw, giving the seventh-seeded Lakers a 3-1 advantage over the Suns.
Unfortunately, the Lakers lost the next three games in a row and lost the series 4-3.
Out of all of Kobe Bryant's clutch moments in his career, this moment was arguably the most memorable, and solidified Bryant as one of the greatest clutch performers in NBA history.