Kobe Bryant’s 8 Greatest Performances of All Time
August 23, 2019
The Black Mamba is known for its ability to repeatedly strike at maximum speed with 99% accuracy. Kobe Bryant might not have been quite as accurate, but there’s no denying the appropriateness of the Lakers legend’s self-appointed nickname. Few players in the history of the NBA have captivated the fans the way Kobe Bryant did throughout his 20 seasons as Los Angeles’ favorite star. With that in mind, it only makes sense that Kobe Bryant’s birthday on August 23rd, and “Kobe Bryant Day” on 8/24, which coincides with the two jersey numbers that Bryant wore during his career, have become all-but-official holidays for Lakers fans. To pay our respects, let’s take a look back at Kobe Bryant’s 8 greatest performances of all time.
Slam Dunk Champion
A young Kobe came into the league looking to prove himself and took to the most famous way to gain fans, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. After lacing up his adidas EQT Elevation, complete with his jersey number on the ankle and Lakers colors to match, Bryant wowed the All-Star Weekend crowd with a series of dunks that included a between the legs throw down, a gravity-defying reverse jam, and more.
NBA Finals MVP
After years of ups and downs with Shaquille O’Neal as his teammate in Los Angeles, Kobe set out to prove that he was the bigger superstar during the 2008-2009 NBA season. After reaching the NBA Finals to face off with the Orlando Magic, Bryant made the Nike Kobe 4 legendary by starting the series off with a 40-point, 8-assist, 8-rebound performance. Averaging 32 points per game in the series, Kobe earned his first Finals MVP and the respect of his doubters.
Passing Of The Torch
The comparisons between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have always been (and always will be) neverending. On March 8th, 2003, during Michael Jordan’s final game in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant stole the show from MJ by dropping 55 points against his hero all while wearing a pair of exclusive Air Jordan 8s in Lakers colors.
Kobe doesn’t flinch. Amidst a one-sided battle with the always antagonistic, Matt Barnes, Bryant proved to the world that he’s not human by not flinching with Barnes shoving the ball within inches of his face. Those Nike Kobe 5s must have given the Black Mamba superpowers.
61 Points at Madison Square Garden
There’s just something about the big stage of New York City’s Madison Square Garden that seems to inspire the most amazing performances from the world’s greatest athletes. Kobe set foot on the hardwood of MSG wearing the Nike Zoom Kobe 4 back in 2009 and proceeded to drop 61 on the world's biggest stage.
The 81-Point Game
It goes without saying that Kobe is one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the NBA, but in case there was any room for doubt, the Black Mamba erased it all on January 22, 2006. Bryant scored the second-most points by a single player by dropping an unbelievable 81 points in the Nike Zoom Kobe 1.
62 Points In 3 Quarters
During the 2005-2006 NBA Season, it was almost as if Kobe Bryant was playing NBA Jam. The Black Mamba was on fire! One of the most impressive performances came against the Dallas Mavericks, where Kobe laced up the Nike Zoom Huarache 2K5 and scored 62 points without even setting foot on the court during the final quarter. Legendary.
The build-up to the final game of Kobe Bryant’s career was as captivating as you would imagine but it wouldn’t be right without the Black Mamba putting his emphatic exclamation point on it. While wearing the Nike Kobe 11, Bryant led the Lakers to a comeback victory by scoring 60 points at the Staples Center surrounded by celebrity fans and die-hard Lakers fans who paid as high as $27,500 for a single ticket. It sounds crazy, but we’re willing to bet it was worth it.