The NBA would have started postseason play on April 18 if not for the COVID-19 pandemic that suspended the season on March 11. In honor of the postseason and one of the game’s all-time greats, we examine the five NBA championships won by Kobe Bryant.
No. 5 – 2002
It was the last of the three-peat for the Lakers who swept the New Jersey Nets rather easily. Bryant’s Game 3 was the highlight of the series. He put up 36 points in a 106-103 win on the road. His 2002 postseason is best remembered for his Game 6 and Game 7 efforts in the Western Conference finals against Sacramento.
Bryant scored 31 points, had 11 rebounds, and dished out five assists in Game 6 and added 30, 10, and seven in a dramatic Game 7 win. Remember, the Lakers were down 3-2 in the series before Bryant’s heroics.
No. 4 – 2000
It was Bryant’s first title. He averaged 21.1 points per game through the postseason, one in which he also suffered a severely sprained ankle in the NBA Finals. After missing most of Game 2 and all of Game 3, Bryant roared back with 28 points in a 120-118 overtime win on the road in Indianapolis. The win gave the Lakers a 3-1 lead in a series they would ultimately win 4-2.
No. 3 – 2001
What a more fitting way to win a title than in front of your hometown fans. Bryant averaged 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists throughout the postseason. He led the Lakers to an amazing 15-1 postseason record and outdueled 1996 fellow draftee Allen Iverson in the NBA Finals.
No. 2 – 2009
After the 2008 season, Bryant went to Beijing to lead Team USA to a gold medal in the Summer Olympics. He came back to lead the Lakers to 65 wins in the 2008-09 NBA season playing in all 82 games.
In the NBA Finals against Orlando, Bryant averaged 32.4 points and 7.4 assists per game. Los Angeles beat the Magic in five games and Bryant was named the NBA Finals MVP.
No. 1 – 2010
Entering the postseason banged up, Bryant pulled off what was the greatest accomplishment of his career. With a fractured finger on his shooting hand and a knee that needed drained three times during the postseason, Bryant averaged 29.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists to lead the Lakers to wins over Oklahoma City, Utah, and Phoenix.
That set up a Lakers-Celtics showdown for the NBA title. In a classic Game 7, Bryant scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter and had 15 rebounds to lead Los Angeles to victory. In addition to his fifth NBA title, Bryant earned his second NBA Finals MVP award.