Kobe Bryant was an All-Star, an MVP, and a five-time NBA champion. He won Finals MVP twice, All-Star MVP four times, and after he retired from basketball, he even won an Academy Award. His influence on the game and the generations of players that came after him is immeasurable. All of this made it that much more tragic that his life was cut short in a helicopter crash that killed Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter.
Before he died at the age of 41, Bryant left a legacy of amazing work on the court and off that will be remembered through the ages. You don't win five rings and score the second-most points in a game of anyone in NBA history without leaving a few memorable moments in your wake. As one of the top Los Angeles Lakers of all time, Bryant will surely find his way into the Hall of Fame, and he definitely left a lasting impression on every single fan of the NBA.
So, for maybe the greatest No. 8 of all time, here are the eight most memorable games from the Mamba's career.
Date: January 22, 2006
Final: Los Angeles Lakers 122 - Toronto Raptors 104
Kobe's stats: 81 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
How could anyone forget the second-highest-scoring game in NBA history? Maybe the most iconic performance of Kobe Bryant's legendary career came when he dropped 81 on the Raptors, going 28-for-46 from the floor with seven 3-pointers and 18 free throws made.
Date: April 13, 2016
Final: Los Angeles Lakers 101 - Utah Jazz 96
Kobe's stats: 60 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
While the rest of the basketball world was focused on whether the Warriors would win their record-breaking 73rd game, Kobe Bryant went out on the final night of his legendary career and reminded the world of his brilliance one more time. He made 22 shots from the field, including six 3-pointers, and closed the books on an epic career.
Date: June 4, 2009
Final: Los Angeles Lakers 100 - Orlando Magic 75
Kobe Bryant went to the Finals seven times in his career but didn't win his first Finals MVP until 2009, when he averaged 32.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game en route to his fourth championship. He opened that series with his only 40-point finals performance and showed he would not be denied.
Date: December 20, 2005
Final: Los Angeles Lakers 112 - Dallas Mavericks 90
Kobe's stats: 62 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals
Kobe was famous for his ability to take over a game single-handedly. No time was that more apparent than when he put up 62 points against the Mavericks in just three quarters. With the Lakers carrying a huge lead in the fourth, Kobe never saw the floor, but he needed just 32 minutes to make his mark.