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20 memorable Kobe Bryant moments

Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. He was 41. Here's a look at 20 memorable moments from Bryant's 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Summer 2008: Redeem Team's Olympic gold medal

Kobe Bryant was named captain of the U.S.
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS/Eric Gay

Kobe Bryant was named captain of the U.S. men's basketball team for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Bryant and his teammates sought to make up for the team's disappointing performance during the 2004 Olympics, hence the nickname, "The Redeem Team." The day after Bryant's 30th birthday, he scored 20 points to help the U.S. capture the gold medal by defeating Spain, 118-107. Bryant won a second gold medal with the 2012 U.S. men's basketball team during the Summer Olympics in London.

2006/2007: Kobe's back-to-back scoring titles

Kobe Bryant averaged 35.4 points per game during
Credit: AP / Chris Carlson

Kobe Bryant averaged 35.4 points per game during the 2005-2006 season, the highest single-season average since Michael Jordan's 37.1 in 1986-1987, and eighth highest in NBA history. He followed that up with a second straight scoring title in 2006-2007, averaging 31.6 points per game.

January 22, 2006: Kobe scores 81 points

About a month after scoring 62 points in
Credit: AP / Matt A. Brown

About a month after scoring 62 points in a game, Kobe Bryant set a new career high. He scored 81 points, the second highest in NBA history behind only Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962. Bryant shot 28-for-46 from the field, making 7 of 13 three-point attempts and 18 of 20 free throws during the Lakers' 122-104 win over the Toronto Raptors. He scored 55 points in the second half, helping the Lakers erase an 18-point deficit. Only four other players in NBA history have scored 70 or more points in an NBA game: Chamberlain (six times), David Thompson (73 in 1978), Elgin Baylor (71 in 1960), and David Robinson (71 in 1994).

2008: Kobe Bryant named NBA MVP

Kobe Bryant was voted Most Valuable Player of
Credit: AP Photo / Ric Francis

Kobe Bryant was voted Most Valuable Player of the NBA in the 2007-2008 season. Bryant averaged 28.3 points (second behind LeBron James' 30 per game), 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists. He led the Lakers to a 57-29 record and to the NBA Finals, where they fell to the Boston Celtics in seven games.

Feb. 8, 1998: Youngest to start in an All-Star game

Kobe Bryant became -- and remains -- the
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS/MARK LENNIHAN

Kobe Bryant became -- and remains -- the only teenager to start in the NBA All-Star Game. Bryant was voted in by the fans despite not being a regular starter for the Lakers. He was 19 when he took the court at Madison Square Garden. He was joined in the starting lineup by Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett. Bryant used the stage to challenge Michael Jordan, who was in his last season with the Chicago Bulls, in what many viewed as a passing-of-the-torch moment. Bryant scored 18 points in 22 minutes, including some crowd-pleasing dunks. 

Dec. 14, 2014 - Passes Jordan on all-time scoring list

Kobe Bryant long had been compared with Michael
Credit: AP / Ann Heisenfelt

Kobe Bryant long had been compared with Michael Jordan. On this night, Bryant moved ahead of Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list, putting him in third place behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928). Bryant hit a free throw during the second quarter of the Lakers' 100-94 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves to surpass Jordan, who had 32,292 career points. In October, Bryant began his 20th season in the NBA with 32,482 career points.

March 2007: Four straight-50 point games

Kobe Bryant scored 50 or more points in
Credit: AP / Kevork Djansezian

Kobe Bryant scored 50 or more points in four consecutive games, becoming just the second player in NBA history to do so (Wilt Chamberlain, 1961).
March 16: 65 points in a 116-111 overtime win over the Trail Blazers
March 18: 50 points in a 109-102 win over the Timberwolves
March 22: 60 points in a 121-119 win over the Grizzlies
March 23: 50 points in a 111-105 win over the Hornets
Bryant's streak was snapped on March 25 by the Golden State Warriors, who held Bryant to 43 points.

June 2000: First of three straight championships

In Phil Jackson's first season as head coach
Credit: AP / Nick Ut

In Phil Jackson's first season as head coach of the Lakers, he built his triangle offense around Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. The Lakers finished with a 67-15 record and advanced to the NBA Finals. Bryant, after missing a majority of Game 2 and all of Game 3 with an ankle injury, returned in Game 4 and scored eight of his 28 points in overtime, including a key putback in the final minute to propel the Lakers to a 120-118 win and a 3-1 series lead over the Indiana Pacers. Bryant scored 26 in Game 6 to help secure the first of his five championships. The following season, the Lakers went 15-1 in the playoffs and captured a second straight title, winning in Bryant's hometown of Philadelphia.

Dec. 7, 2012 - Youngest player to score 30,000 points

Another milestone, another record broken. Kobe Bryant, at
Credit: AP / Lori Shepler

Another milestone, another record broken. Kobe Bryant, at 34 years and 104 days old, became the youngest player to reach 30,000 career points after hitting a runner in the third quarter of the Lakers' 103-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets. He surpassed Wilt Chamberlain, who was 35 years and 179 days old when he did it. Bryant became the fifth player to join the 30,000-point club, which also includes: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Chamberlain (31,419).

April 30, 2006: Game-winner vs. Suns

Arguably the most famous buzzer-beater of Kobe Bryant's
Credit: AP / Ric Francis

Arguably the most famous buzzer-beater of Kobe Bryant's career. First, he hit a runner in transition with 0.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Then, off a jump ball, he drained a pull-up jumper from the elbow at the buzzer in double OT to give the Lakers a 99-98 win and a 3-1 series lead in the first round of playoffs (the Suns would win the series in seven games).

Dec. 20, 2005: Scores 62 points in three quarters

Kobe Bryant scored 62 points -- and he
Credit: AP

Kobe Bryant scored 62 points -- and he didn't even play in the fourth quarter. The 27-year old Bryant shot 18 of 31 from the field, 4 of 10 from three-point range, and 22 of 25 from the free throw line in 33 minutes during the Lakers' 112-90 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Bryant scored 30 points in the third, setting a Lakers record for points in a quarter.

Feb. 2, 2010: Lakers all-time leading scorer

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Magic Johnson. Jerry West. Elgin Baylor.
Credit: AP / Mark J. Terrill

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Magic Johnson. Jerry West. Elgin Baylor. Shaquille O'Neal. Kobe Bryant has scored more points in a Lakers uniform than all of those legendary players. Bryant's breakaway dunk in the third quarter of the Lakers' 95-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzles made him the leading scorer in franchise history. Bryant, in his 14th season, moved ahead of West, who scored 25,192 during his career. Bryant, who finished with 44 points in the game, now has more than 32,000 career points, all with the Lakers.

June 2002: Lakers' threepeat

If Kobe Bryant truly wanted to be like
Credit: AP / Michael Conroy

If Kobe Bryant truly wanted to be like Mike, a "three-peat" was as good a place as any to start. Bryant averaged 26.8 points per game in the series and the Lakers won a third consecutive title after sweeping the New Jersey Nets. It was just the fifth time in NBA history that a team won the championship in three straight years. Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls did it twice.

February 2011: Kobe's fourth All-Star game MVP

Kobe Bryant has been the star of stars
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS/Jae C. Hong

Kobe Bryant has been the star of stars more than any NBA player during his generation. Playing in front of his home fans in Los Angeles, Bryant scored 37 points and 14 rebounds and was named MVP of the NBA All-Star Game after leading the West to a 148-143 win over the East. It was Bryant's fourth All-Star Game MVP award, tying Bob Pettit for the most ever. Bryant, now a 17-time All-Star, also won the award in 2002, 2007 and 2009 (co-MVP with Shaquille O'Neal). 

Dec. 23, 2007: Youngest player to score 20,000 points

Kobe Bryant scored his 20,000th career point in
Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

Kobe Bryant scored his 20,000th career point in the same place he scored his first career point: Madison Square Garden. His three-pointer in the third quarter against the Knicks made him the youngest player to reach the 20,000-point plateau at 29 years and 122 days old, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain (29 years, 134 days). Bryant's record was broken by LeBron James, who scored his 20,000 career point at 28 years and 17 days old in 2013.

Feb. 8, 1997: Slam Dunk champion

Kobe Bryant's star appeal first became evident on
Credit: AP/CHRIS PIZZELLO

Kobe Bryant's star appeal first became evident on the national stage during the 1997 NBA All-Star Weekend at Gund Arena in Cleveland. With a between-the-legs dunk, 18-year-old Bryant defeated Michael Finley and Chris Carr in the finals of the Slam Dunk Contest. Bryant also scored a game-high 31 points in the Rookie Challenge Game the night before, but lost MVP honors in the All-Star Game to Allen Iverson, who scored 19 in the Eastern Conference's 96-91 win over the Western Conference. 

June 2009: First post-Shaq championship

Kobe Bryant won his fourth championship ring and
Credit: AP / David J. Phillip

Kobe Bryant won his fourth championship ring and his first without playing alongside Shaquille O'Neal, as the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in five games to win the NBA title. Bryant averaged 32.4 points and 7.4 assists in the series and was named Finals MVP for the first time. He captured a second straight championship, and second straight Finals MVP award, the following season after averaging 28.6 points and 8.0 rebounds in the Lakers' win over the Celtics in seven games.

Nov. 5, 1996: First career point

The first of Kobe Bryant's now 30,000-plus career
Credit: AP/Susan Sterner

The first of Kobe Bryant's now 30,000-plus career points was scored at Madison Square Garden. Less than three months after his 18th birthday, Bryant hit one of two free throws early in the second quarter of the Lakers' 98-92 win over Patrick Ewing and the Knicks. Bryant, who two days prior had become the youngest player ever to play in the NBA at 18 years and 72 days old, missed his only field goal attempt in the three minutes he played.

March 5, 2003: Youngest player to reach 10,000 points

No player in NBA history had scored their
Credit: AP/RIC FRANCIS

No player in NBA history had scored their 10,000th career point before their 25th birthday until Kobe Bryant did so at 24 years and 193 days old. He surpassed Bob McAdoo, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, all of whom joined the 10,000-point club at age 25. Bryant's record was broken in 2007 by LeBron James, who scored his 10,000th career point while just 23 years and 59 days old.

Feb. 3, 2009: - 61 points sets MSG record

Kobe Bryant scored 61 points and was serenaded
Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

Kobe Bryant scored 61 points and was serenaded with chants of "MVP." And the game was played in New York. Bryant set the single-game scoring record at the current Madison Square Garden by shooting 19-for-31 from the field, including 3 of 6 from three, and making all 20 of his free-throw attempts in the Lakers' 126-117 win over the Knicks. He passed Bernard King's record of 60 points set in 1984, and Michael Jordan's 55 points for a Knicks opponent at MSG, set in 1995. Bryant's Garden record was surpassed by the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, who scored 62 points in January 2014.

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