Kobe Bryant is a Mount Rushmore candidate for all-time great NBA players. He’s also one of the more diverse and multifaceted personalities to grace the game.
Today is his 43rd birthday. His career ended five years ago and his life was taken in a tragic helicopter accident on January 26th 2020, when we all assumed he was only at halftime in his life’s journey.
In honor of the seven NBA finals that he went to in his illustrious career, here are seven facts you have to know about the career of Kobe Bean Bryant.
1. The Rise Of The Black Mamba
In 1996 Kobe, the son of former NBA Player Joe Jellybean Bryant, began his journey to hoops immortality. USA Today named him the National High School Player of the Year and he won the Naismith Prep Player of the Year awards.
Why @kobebryant’s predraft workout from his rookie season vs. Michael Cooper has become the stuff of NBA legend http://t.co/cLNKYiVP0M
Bryant was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick overall of the NBA draft and was traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac, becoming the youngest player in league history at that time at 18 years, 2 months and 11 days.
As part of our Rookie Season highlights series, we start off by taking a look at The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant, as a skinny teenager in his first year in the NBA. Check out the flash and athleticism he showed at just 18 years old!
He would go on to hold that two-guard spot for 20 years and retired with a 60-point gem in his final game in 2016.
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2. I Can Fly Like Mike
Baby Kobe wins the All-Star Weekend slam dunk competition and flexes his supreme athleticism, which complements his highly-skilled fundamental game.
Uploaded by Kobe Can on 2017-01-17.
The 1998 NBA All-Star game was Kobes first as a player. He became the youngest All-Star starter in history at 19 years old. By the end of his career, Kobe had four All-Star Game MVP awards.
3. Three-peat: Dont Sweat The Technique
The LA Lakers win the NBA Championship three years in a row from 2000-2002. The Shaq-Kobe dynasty is just a preview of great things to come from Black Mamba. He goes on to win two more championships after Shaq left LA.
18 years ago today: Kobe & Shaq come back from a 13-point deficit in the 4th quarter to defeat the Blazers in Game 7 of the 2000 WCF. The beginning of a dynasty https://t.co/2KOZcll1cy
4. Kobe Joins Wilt As A Supreme Bucket Stuffer
Bryant scores 81 points in the Lakers’ 122-104 win over Toronto. Its the second greatest scoring explosion in NBA history, second only to Wilt The Stilt’s 100 joints in 1962.
@kobebryant day on @NBATV – tune in for @chicagobulls from 97, the 98 #allstargame – @Pacers from 00, 97 Dunk Contest, @SacramentoKings from 01, @Raptors 81 point game from 06, @OrlandoMagic 09 Finals, and his final game against the Jazz in 16. #happybirthday #KobeBryant
Say what you want about Kobe and where he ranks among the all-time greats, but he has few equals offensively, his will to win and work ethic was relentless and young players still study his moves to become better offensive players.
5. Kobe Hops Into That Revolving Door GOAT Conversation
December 14, 2014 – Kobe surpasses Michael Jordan to become third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, with 32,310 career points and the GOAT conversation started heating up before LeBron hijacked the narrative and left Kobe on the outside looking in at a debate that he should surely be a part of.
OTD (03) Kobe Bryant scores 55 (42 in 1st half) vs Michael Jordan & the Wizards. VIDEO: https://t.co/DE3XXscs2x
6. Kobe Relinquishes Kings Crown To LeBron
January 28, 2015 – Kobe undergoes surgery to repair his torn right rotator cuff and is expected to be out nine months. It was the beginning of the end for one of the games mythical hoopers. Mother nature had finally caught up with the one-time Boy Wonder and it officially became The LeBron James Era in the NBA.
Kobe fans wanted the debate to be “Kobe vs Jordan.” Instead, LeBron got that debate and they had to settle for “Kobe vs Duncan.” @getnickwright explains https://t.co/WYe8sqgKBT
7. Black Mamba Mogul
Kobe transitioned from NBA icon to business mogul in the same fashion as his Lakers predecessor Magic Johnson. Among his many investments, Kobe was a major investor in BodyArmor sports drink. He planned to make it the No. 1 sports drink by 2025 and had an ambitious goal of knocking Gatorade and Powerade out of the top spots.
Kobe Bryant’s $6 million investment in sports drink BodyArmor now reportedly worth $200M: https://t.co/bX7T0pidSo
BodyArmor is nationally distributed, available in convenience stores, grocery chains and sports clubs. Revenues were on track to hit $200 million in 2017 and the company says it saw 110 percent year-over-year growth in convenience stores.
Kobe was such a remarkable man and will be missed. His contributions to women’s basketball on the strength of his daughter Gigi — and the way he mentored so many of today’s great WNBA and NBA players — is undeniable. His business sense was limitless.
Who knows if we got the best of Kobe Bryant? What we do know is that few have left a legacy so impactful in such a short time on this earth.
Happy Birthday Mamba