Kobe Bryant is considered one of the best basketball players in NBA history. When it comes to who is the best player to ever play in the NBA, his name is mostly mentioned next to Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Kobe dedicated his entire life to one franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he was a five-time champion.
Bryant was selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft as the 13th pick in the first round but did not stay long at that club. It turns out that going to the Lakers was his best possible because he had a lot of success with the most trophy-winning club in NBA history over the next two decades. He significantly contributed to the Lakers continuing their trophy tradition in this century.
How many Rings Kobe have? (All with Lakers)
In addition to the five championship rings, “Black Mamba” played in the NBA All-Star as many as 18 times and was the MVP in four games. He was twice the MVP in the NBA Finals and once the most useful player in the regular season. Kobe has been selected in the top five of the league 11 times
. Bryant was not only great in the attacking part of the game because he was selected in the top five of the league nine times.
He was the league’s top scorer twice during his career. He once managed to win the dunk competition at the All-Star, which he did in 1997 at the very beginning of his NBA career.
He scored over 33,000 points in two decades of playing in the NBA. In addition to five NBA championship titles, Bryant also won two gold medals with the USA at the Olympic Games.
His game against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006, when he scored 81 points, will be remembered. Only Wilt Chamberlain had a better performance when he scored an incredible 100 points in one game.
Kobe left this world too soon, considering that he died in a helicopter crash a little over two years ago. He was only 41 years old. Kobe arrived in the NBA at just 17 years old after great performances at Lower Merion making him one of the youngest players to ever play in the strongest basketball league in the world. As we mentioned Bryant went to the 1996 NBA Draft where he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets. “Black Mamba” thus became the first player to be selected in the draft immediately after graduating from high school.
The Lakers traded Vlade Divac and Bryant ended up in Los Angeles. Since he was still a minor, the contract with the best franchise in the history of the league was signed by his parents.
The question is what would have happened if Kobe had remained among the Hornets and whether his career would have been as glorious as it eventually was. It is especially interesting that the current owner of the Charlotte Hornets is another candidate for the best basketball player in the history of the NBA, Michael Jordan.
Bryant played great in the summer league that year and made his NBA debut at just 18 years and 158 days making him the second-youngest player to get a chance to play in the NBA. In his first season, he mostly came in from the bench and played about 15 minutes per game on average.
In his debut season, he participated in the All-Star slam dunk contest, which he won, making him the youngest winner in the history of that competition. That season the Lakers were eliminated by the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals and even then Bryant slowly began to take the lead in the team. The following season, Kobe got significantly more minutes, so he scored a higher number of points on average.
Then he had an effect of just over 15 points per match. That season, he became the youngest starter in an All-Star game in NBA history. In the 1998/99 season, Kobe established himself as a starter and signed a six-year contract with the Lakers. Even then, at the very beginning of his NBA career, they started comparing him to Jordan and another Lakers legend, Magic Johnson.
Kobe with Lakers
When the legendary Phil Jackson arrived on the Lakers’ bench, Kobe’s Lakers trophy era began. The Lakers became the champion team thanks to Jackson leading them off the bench as well as a great playing tandem made up of Bryant and O’Neal.
1999–2000 LA Lakers Championship Ring
At the beginning of this millennium, Kobe won his first three NBA championship rings. Bryant was already playing for almost 40 minutes on average at the time and became a true leader on the team.
During the 1999/2000 season, he had a problem with injury, but when he returned to the field, he was the best player of the mentioned team.
He led the team to the very end in which he suffered an ankle injury, so he missed two games in the playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.
2000–2001 LA Lakers NBA Championship Ring
After returning he scored some of the key points in the following games and reached the first NBA ring thus bringing the Lakers to their first title after a 12-year hiatus. Bryant continued with fantastic games in the next season, with the fact that he already had an average of almost 29 points per game.
That season, the Lakers suffered only one defeat in the playoffs. Only the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Lakers in the first game of the finals after which the Lakers tied four wins and came away with their second tied title. Kobe won the second championship ring, and he led the team with almost 30 points on average per match, and he was also the leader in assists.
2001–2002 LA Lakers Championship Ring
In the 2001/2002 season, Bryant played over 80 games for the first time in his career. That season, he continued with fantastic games that were crowned with another NBA title.
That season Bryant won the MVP title at the All-Star. In addition to that recognition, Kobe was re-elected to the best defensive five, and for the first time in his career, he was elected to the best five in the league.
This time, the Lakers had a much harder time reaching another title, and the game against the Sacramento Kings was especially interesting when the Lakers secured a place in the grand final after seven games. “Black Mamba” comes to its third championship ring after the final series against the New Jersey Nets.
Bryant was only 23 at the time and had already won three championship rings. Kobe has been waiting for the next championship ring for seven years. In the next two seasons, Bryant was again the leader of the team but the Lakers did not have the success as in previous seasons.
2002–2003 LA Lakers Championship Ring
In the 2002/03 season, the Lakers were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals who later won the league. The following season, the Lakers played in the finals again but were defeated by the Detroit Pistons. Kobe’s reputation began to decline because he had problems with allegations of sexual abuse.
2004–2005 LA Lakers Championship Ring
After a long time in the 2004/05 season, the Lakers missed the playoffs. The following season, Bryant achieved a historic achievement as he scored as many as 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.
Bryant was the league’s top scorer that season. The following season Bryant won that award again, but the Lakers were again eliminated early in the playoffs. During the 2007/08 season Bryant had a problem with a finger injury on the shooter’s hand, but instead of surgery he played all 82 games that season. Kobe won the MVP award that season.
For the fifth time in his career, Bryant played in the NBA Finals but the Lakers were defeated by the Boston Celtics. The following season, the Lakers played in the finals again, but this time they managed to win the title by defeating the Orlando Magic in the grand final after five games. In that way, Kobe reached his fourth championship ring and averaged over 32 points per match.
The 2008–2009 LA Lakers Championship Ring
The following season Bryant had injury problems again, but again led the Lakers to another championship title. For the third time in a row, the Lakers are playing in the finals, and this time they defeated the Boston Celtics in the finals, which they took revenge for the defeat a few seasons earlier. Then it turns out Kobe won his last NBA championship ring. For the second time in a row, he was chosen as the MVP of the finals.
The great Michael Jordan won six titles so Bryant chased that achievement. Unfortunately, he did not manage to achieve that. The Lakers will reach the next title only with the arrival of another of the best players in the history of the league, LeBron James a couple of years ago.
Until then, the Lakers had a lot of disappointing seasons where they finished the season at the bottom of the table without any chances for the playoffs. In the not-so-good years according to the Lakers, Bryant was still the leader of the team, but the team was no longer competitive for the title, and thus “Black Mamba” stopped at five championship titles.
That number could have been even higher, given that the Lakers were defeated in several finals, but regardless of that, five championship rings are a great achievement, which Bryant deservedly earned the status of one of the best players in NBA history. He played his last game against Utah Jazz in 2016, when he scored as many as 60 points, making him the oldest player to do so, considering that he was already 37 at the time. Unfortunately, his life ended prematurely, but Bryant will live forever for all basketball fans.