NBA superstar Kobe Bryant’s life was cut short last Sunday, January 26, when a helicopter carrying him, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people crashed while on the way to a basketball tournament, killing everyone on board. Friday, January 31, the Los Angeles Lakers will take the court for the first time since Bryant’s death. He played with the Lakers for his entire 20-year career. In that time, how many championships did he win?
Kobe Won Five NBA Titles
Bryant and the Lakers won the NBA title five times — in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010. During Bryant’s tenure, they went to the NBA finals another two times, in 2004 and 2008. His five NBA rings put Bryant in good company; he is tied for 14th for most championships all-time with players that include Magic Johnson, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, Derek Fisher, and Tim Duncan, among others.
As Bryant was fond of pointing out, that’s one more title than his friend and former teammate Shaquille O’Neal has. “I got one more Shaq, so you can take that to the bank,” Kobe cracked after the 2010 championship.
But in all seriousness, Bryant said in a 2018 interview that the final game of the 2010 championship is the thing he is most proud of in his 20-year career.
“Honestly, this may sound a little shallow, but I gotta say beating the Celtics in game 7, that’s what I’m most proud of,” said Bryant, “because it was the hardest. They were playing with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen … that game 7, we were down 15 points in the fourth quarter and that’s when you have to collectively look at each other and say the spirit of your team must be good because at that moment is when team’s fracture. If the energy amongst each other isn’t there, that trust isn’t there, you’re done. We were able to collectively dig deep together and say alright, we’re going to figure this thing out.”
In the NBA finals, Bryant was named MVP in both 2009 and 2010. He was the NBA’s overall MVP in 2008.
Bryant was the first guard in NBA history to play 20 seasons. During those seasons, he was selected to the NBA All-Star game 18 times, which is the second-most all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 19 selections. Four times Bryant was named the All-Star MVP, which ties him with Bob Pettit for most in NBA history.
During his tenure, Bryant was an All-NBA First Teamer 11 times, a Second Teamer twice and a Third Teamer twice. He also won the Slam Dunk Contest in 1997.
He is fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list behind Jabbar, Karl Malone, and LeBron James, who actually passed Bryant on the list the night before Bryant’s death. Bryant currently holds the NBA records for youngest player to start a game, youngest player to start an All-star game, the youngest player to reach 30,000, 32,000 and 33,000 points, the oldest player to score 60 or more points in one game, and the only player in NBA history to score 600+ points in the postseason for three consecutive years (2008-2010).
As part of Team USA, he won two gold medals as the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games. And in 2018, the short film he wrote and narrated called “Dear Basketball” won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.
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