Kobe’s top 10 performances

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Kobe Bryant's legendary career has entered its final chapter and we've taken a look back at some of the the Black Mamba's greatest performances. 

10. 51 points vs Golden State Warriors – December 6, 2000

While the Los Angeles Lakers actually lost this clash 125-122 in overtime, it was still a landmark game for Bryant as it was the first time he scored 50 points. 

9. 40 points vs Orlando Magic – June 4, 2009

Bryant scored 40 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic and this set the tone for the entire series, which the Lakers would win in five games. 

Furthermore, it finally put the question about whether Bryant would be able to win another NBA title without Shaq to rest. 

8. 52 points vs Houston Rocket – February 18, 2003

This game came in the midst of Bryant’s nine-game 40-plus points scoring streak and he entered the game with a sore right knee. The Lakers did not have Shaquille O’Neal present either, but that didn’t stop the ‘Black Mamba’ from scoring 52 points, during which he posterized Yao Ming. 

7. Game 7 of 2000 Western Conference Finals – June 4, 2000

With the Lakers down by 15, Bryant helped erase the Portland Trail Blazers’ lead in the final 10 minutes to lead his side to an 89-84 win. 

Bryant finished the game with 25 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks, but more importantly, this marked the start of the Lakers’ three-peat. 

6. 65 points vs Portland Trail Blazers – March 16, 2007

This game was the start of four-game 50-point streak for Bryant and came when the Lakers were on a seven-game losing streak, the longest of head coach Phil Jackson’s career. 

Bryant proved to be too much for the Trail Blazers to handle as he went eight of 12 from long range to carry the Lakers to a 116-111 victory in overtime. 

5. 55 points vs Washington Wizards – March 28, 2003

This was the last time Bryant would face Michael Jordan, who is arguably the best player to ever play the game. 

Bryant stole the spotlight as he scored 42 points in the first half, breaking Elgin Baylor’s record of 37. The 37-year-old drained shots from incredible distances and finished with 55 points, which saw him convert nine of the 13 three-pointers he attempted. 

4. 12 three-pointers vs Seattle Supersonics – January 7, 2003

Bryant broke an NBA record for the most three-pointers made in a single game by knocking down 12 in a 119-98 win over the Sonics. 

However, while Donyell Marshall equaled Bryant’s record two years later, the 37-year-old was the first man to accomplish this feat, during which he also made a record nine straight three-pointers without missing.

3. 56 points vs Memphis Grizzlies – January 14, 2002

This game usually gets lost in the plethora of outstanding performances Bryant has had throughout his illustrious career, but scoring 56 points in only 34 minutes is an incredible feat for any player. 

With Bryant having played just under three quarters, there is no telling how many points he would have gone on to score had he also played the fourth quarter. 

2. 62 points vs Dallas Mavericks – December 20, 2005

The ‘Black Mamba’ was only on the court for 33 minutes in the Lakers’ 112-90 victory over the Mavericks, but boy oh boy did he have an impact during that time as he made some incredible shots and went 22 of 25 from the charity stripe. 

However, this was one of those what-if games as had Bryant played in the fourth quarter, how many points would he have ended up with? Sadly no one will ever know. 

1.  81 points vs Toronto Raptors – January 22, 2006

Whether you love him or hate him, Bryant earned the respect of everyone when he dropped a career-best 81 points against the Raptors in a performance that will live on through the ages. 

Bryant left the Raptors in a spin as he converted shot after shot. The ‘Black Mamba’ eventually etched his name in the history books as he put up the second-greatest individual performance in an NBA game behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, which came against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962. 

Bimal Mirwani