With just 3 games remaining in the Lakers season, Kobe Bryant brings his retirement tour to Texas to face the Houston Rockets for a final time.
During the late 90s and all the 2000’s. Kobe Bryant was the closest player we may ever have witnessed to rival the great Michael Jordan. Despite the last two seasons, Bryant has left a tremendous legacy behind for the next generation of basketball fans.
Throughout his legendary career, every team has had their fair share of torture by the Black Mamba. No matter if it was his scoring rampage that left our team feeling helpless. Or his heartbreaking game winners that left us in awe. There isn’t a team in this league who has avoided the wrath of Kobe Bryant.
As his Los Angeles Lakers hit the road to take on the Houston Rockets this Sunday. This game will mark Bryant’s last appearance in Houston. In honor of his final game against the Rockets, this writer decided to take a look at Bryant’s greatest moments in Clutch City.
Next: Kodak Kobe Moment
Honorable Mention: The Last Mamba Kodak Moment
State Line: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists.
Game Score: 107-87 (Rockets)
The Rockets saw vintage Kobe Bryant in a mid-December game earlier this season. Initially Bryant got off to an awful start. James Harden put on a scoring display in his hometown. The Bearded One scored 17 of his 25 points during the first half, to give the Rockets a 17 point halftime lead.
Despite Harden’s hot start. Kobe stole the show during the second half. Bryant was unstoppable as he scored 10 of his 22 points in the third quarter.
What made this an unforgettable performance was his posterizing dunk over Clint Capela. At 37 years old, Rockets fans may have witnessed what could be his final Mamba Kodak moment.
Despite losing by 20 points, it was nice to see Bryant get up like he once did ten years ago.
Next: The Great Wall Showdown
A Showdown With the Great Wall
State Line: 43 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists.
Game Score: 104-88 (Lakers)
Ten years earlier. On a Sunday afternoon in 2006. Kobe Bryant was having one of the greatest individual seasons in league history. While the Lakers were on the verge of improving their postseason standing, Houston sat on the outside looking in to the playoff race.
Despite 19 first half points by Bryant. Yao Ming led the Rockets to a one-point halftime lead. Unfortunately, as Yao and his Rockets begin to cool off. The Black Mamba caught fire during the second half.
Within the first five minutes of the third. Bryant ignited for 15 points on 69 percent shooting. By the end of the quarter, the Lakers held an 88-70 lead over the Rockets.
As the Lakers defeated the Rockets, Bryant ended the game with 43 points. It was his 23rd game of 40 or more points tying the Lakers’ single-season record set by Elgin Baylor in 1963.
Bryant would shatter Baylor’s record four days later against the Denver Nuggets. In which he scored 42 points in the loss.
Next: T-Mac battles the Black Mamba
T-Mac Vs The Black Mamba
State Line: 45 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals.
Game Score: 95-93 (Rockets)
Although T-mac and The Black Mamba had plenty of battles over the years, none was more nerve-racking than this season opener in 2007.
With rumors that he wanted out of Los Angeles, Bryant was met with a few boos during the pre-game introduction. However, after scoring 13 points in the first quarter. It’s safe to say Bryant won his fans back after the first 12 minutes.
As Bryant erupted for 19 first half points. McGrady was not to be outdone by his rival in Hollywood. T-Mac would go on to score 12 first-half points. To help his Rockets tie the game at 43 heading into the break.
During the second half, Rick Adelman did all he could to slow Bryant down, but no one could stop the man. In the third, Bryant hit a fade away jumper which was contested by Shane Battier and Yao Ming.
Bryant went on to score 18 fourth quarter points. He affected the game on all levels that day as he dished an assist to Derek Fisher who hit a game tieing shot. With 10 seconds remaining, McGrady was able to find a wide open Battier who nailed a tie breaking 3-pointer. Giving the Rockets a 95-93 victory over the Lakers. This was one for the ages.
Next: He Can't Guard Me!
He Can’t Guard Me!
State Line: 40 points, 6 rebounds
Game Score: 111-98 (Lakers)
Arguably if Tracy McGrady had been healthy for this series the Rockets may have advanced to the next round. Despite winning their first playoff series since 1997. No one gave the Rockets a chance of competing with the top-seeded Lakers during the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Lakers would soon discover that their second round opponents would not be a walk in the park. As Yao led Houston to a 100-92 victory in game 1. Although the Rockets had all the momentum heading into game 2, it did not take long for Kobe Bryant to kill Houston’s vibe.
Bryant came out on fire scoring 15 points in the first 12 minutes. Although the Lakers held a 14 point lead, the Rockets would eventually battle back to tie the game at 57 right before the half. Unfortunately, Houston could not do anything but watch in despair as Bryant ignited for 20 second half points to lead his Lakers to an 111-98 victory.
Who can forget after every shot, Bryant yelling at Doug Collins saying, “He Can’t Guard Me!” Referring to the rumors that Shane Battier was the “Kobe Stopper.”
Next: The 40-Point Streak
Make That Six Straight 40 Plus or More
State Line: 52 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists
Game Score: 112-101 (Lakers)
During the middle of the 2002-03 season, Kobe Byrant went on a historic run, posting 40 or more points in nine consecutive games. He went on to average 40.6 points per game the entire month of February. The Rockets became Bryant’s sixth victim in a double-overtime classic.
Bryant got off to a hot start hitting all five of his shots to give the Lakers an early 12-2 lead. However, Steve Francis and company would not be outdone. Late in the first, Rudy Tomjanovich adjusted his defense and forced Bryant to go 3 of 10 for the rest of the half.
The Rockets took a one-point lead into the break but failed to contain Bryant in the second half. He would go off for 16 second-half points to force the game into overtime.
Then Kobe did what made him considered the most lethal sniper in the NBA for years as he lead the Lakers to a double-overtime victory. Punctuating his brilliance Bryant scored all nine of his team’s points in the first overtime, and eight in the second extra period.
Next: Down 20, Bryant sparks Lakers to OT win
Never Over Until It’s Over
State Line: 53 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals
Game Score: 112-101 (Lakers)
Yep, That’s Right! Kobe Bryant had another 50 point performance on the Rockets three years later.
With Tracy McGrady missing his third consecutive game. Yao Ming and Rafer Alston had the Rockets up by 21 points at the half. Despite their poor first half performance, Bryant still believed the Los Angeles Lakers could win this game.
Behind Bryant’s 20 points during the second half. The Lakers trailed the Rockets until the final minutes of regulation. After the Lakers and Rockers failed to gain an advantage during the first overtime. Bryant scored the first nine points of the second OT to pull away with the win.
Although Bryant wasn’t too efficient and took 38 shots, he became the first player since Michael Jordan to score 53 points, grab 10 rebounds, and dish out eight assists. Even with the insane defense of Shane Battier against him, Bryant still managed to will his Lakers to a win.
Next: This generations GOAT?
His achievements are so numerous it would take a full article just to list, but here’s just a few:
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- 5-time NBA champion
- 17 NBA All-Star selections
- 2-time scoring champ
- 2008 Regular Season MVP (still baffles the mind to think he only won this award a single time)
- 4-time All-Star game MVP
- 11-time All-NBA First team selections\
- 9-time All-Defensive Team
- Third all-time in scoring
- AND a work ethic out of this world.
In reflections I’m happy to say I have witnessed one of the greatest careers in pro sports.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I am sure many of you will not agree with this statement, but in my eyes Kobe Bryant is the greatest player that ever played. He is the Michael Jordan of my generation.
The Legacy Kobe is leaving behind will never be forgotten, and the league will never be the same.
Enjoy retirement Kobe, and thank you for all the memories!
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