On November 29, 2015, after 20 seasons in the NBA, "The Black Mamba" Kobe Bean Bryant announced that he would retire following the 2015-16 season at age 37.
Arguably the Los Angeles Lakers best player ever in franchise history, which is not an easy title to come by, Bryant knew it was time to give it up prior to entering this current season. He announced his retirement in the form of a poem:
I fell in love with you.
In honor of the future first ballot Hall of Famer, we take a look at Bryant's best moment against each NBA team.
29 Atlanta Hawks
On March 3rd, 2013, the Lakers were down 98-97 to the Hawks and had possession. With about 18 seconds left, the ball goes into the hands of none other than Kobe Bryant. Bryant gets the ball and goes around a pick made by Dwight Howard, with Al Horford checking, a clear mismatch.
28 Boston Celtics
With about 17 seconds left in the 4th quarter and the Lakers down by one point, Bryant gets the ball with Ray Allen all over him. He dribbles left stops and pump fakes but Allen doesn't fall for it. He pump fakes again, but Allen still does not bite. With nowhere to go Bryant just fades away and drills a shot over Allen's outstretched hand and gives the Lakers a 90-89 lead with 7.3 seconds left.
27 Brooklyn Nets
With the game tied up at 80 a piece and the Lakers with the ball, Bryant gets the rock in his hands with about 7 seconds left on the shot clock. With Gerald Wallace defending him, Bryant dribbles to the right and into the lane. At age 35, Bryant can not get up like he use to, but that did not stop him on this night.
26 Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats
25 Chicago Bulls
In just his second season, the matchup everybody was waiting for happened, Kobe Bryant against the player he looked up to in Michael Jordan.
The two battled throughout the game, with Bryant finishing the game with 33 points off the bench in 29 minutes and Jordan finishing with 36 points in 35 minutes. However, the Bulls were too much for the Lakers as Chicago won 104-83.
24 Cleveland Cavaliers
The Lakers had the ball with 31.3 second left in the game.
Bryant gets the ball at the top of the key with LeBron James draped all over him. Bryant sees a pick and does not use it, and that leads to Zydrunas Illgauskas coming over to double him, but Bryant would not be denied this moment. Bryant dribbles to his left and fades away going out of bounds and hits a shot over James and Illgauskas that hits nothing but net with 8.6 seconds left, giving the Lakers a 99-97 lead.
James would attempt to answer, hitting one of two free throws, and missing a last second shot to give the Lakers a 99-98 win.
23 Dallas Mavericks
On December 20, 2005, the Dallas Mavericks came into the Staples Center ready to battle Bryant and the Lakers, but they were not ready for the performance Bryant was about to put on.
22 Denver Nuggets
21 Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers were in the 2004 NBA Finals. The Lakers were down 1-0 in the series, after losing the first game at home.
20 Golden State Warriors
On December 6, 2000, Bryant traveled to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors and Antawn Jamison. This game was a battle between Jamison and Bryant.
19 Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets came to battle the Lakers at Staples Center but could not compete with them.The Lakers had 52-62 lead late in the 3rd quarter, but that wasn't enough for Bryant. He had to leave his own mark on the game, and that he did.
18 Indiana Pacers
On January 9, 2009, the Pacers and Lakers battled a close matchup throughout the entire game. In the end, the game came down to one play.
17 Los Angeles Clippers
16 Memphis Grizzlies
On January 14, 2002, the Grizzlies hoped to come in and upset the Lakers, who at the time, were the top team to beat. That was not the case, thanks in part to Bryant's performance.
Bryant exploded and dropped 56 on the Grizzlies through 3 quarters in 34 minutes. Bryant did not play the 4th quarter, due to the lakers being up 98-59 heading into the final quarter.
15 Miami Heat
Whenever two of the best shooting guards in the league go head-to-head, its always a show. On December 4, 2009, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant met in a classic game between the two.
14 Milwaukee Bucks
In one of the best games of the season on December 16, 2009, the Bucks and Lakers fought hard to the end, forcing an overtime game. In overtime, the game looked like it might go into a double.
With 27 seconds left, the Bucks led the Lakers 106-105 and had possession, looking to put the game away. The Bucks put the ball in Michael Redd's hands and he got in the lane and missed a floater, setting up a last chance for the Lakers to try and win this ball game with 5.4 seconds left.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves
12 New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans
In Game 5 of the 2011 first round playoffs, with the series tied at 2 games a piece between the New Orleans Hornets and the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant showed how much he wanted to win this game by turning back the hands of time.
Bryant received a pass from teammate Pau Gasol at the top of the key and drove the lane for a monstrous one-handed dunk over Emeka Okafor, looking like the Kobe of old. Bryant must have forgot he was wearing #24 and not #8 for a second.
11 New York Knicks
In a 2000 game between the Lakers and Knicks, it was a pretty good game until a moment nobody saw coming happened. With Shaquille O'Neal posting up Patrick Ewing, Bryant and Chris Childs were having a confrontation at the same time.
Childs was chasing Bryant around the court and then the two kept bumping each other. Childs gets irritated and then pushes Bryant, causing Bryant to get into Child's face. Child then leans in and headbutts Bryant, which led to Bryant throwing a forearm at his chin. Childs then steps back and throws two closed fists that land on Bryant's chin. Before Bryant could react, he was held back by two referees, teammates and an assistant coach.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder (Seattle Supersonics)
On January 7, 2003, Bryant caught fire against the Seattle Supersonics. Bryant shot his first nine 3-pointers and made them. Bryant went on to shoot nine more, but only made three of them. However, that is all Bryant needed at that time to set a new NBA and Lakers franchise record, making twelve 3-pointers in a single game at age 24.
9 Orlando Magic
On November 12, 2004, Magic rookie Dwight Howard had his "Welcome to the NBA moment" delivered by Kobe Bryant.
Late in the third quarter, Bryant came down the court and went around a pick, crossed-over the defenders and rose up for a thunderous one-handed dunk all over Howard's back. Bryant even hung on the rim and Howard's back for a couple of seconds, letting it sink in.
8 Philadelphia 76ers
The match ups between Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant never failed to put on a show. With both players' teams struggling at the time, Bryant and the Lakers wanted this win more.
7 Phoenix Suns
The Lakers were up 2-1 in a series against the Suns but down 88-90 with 7.9 seconds left in game 4 as the Suns had the ball. The Suns inbound the ball to Steve Nash, but Smush Parker steals the ball. They quickly get the ball to Bryant, who drives to the lane and makes an unbelievable layup that sends the game into overtime.
6 Portland Trailblazers
On march 16, 2007, Bryant was in a zone against the Trailblazers. The Lakers were on a 7 game losing streak and Bryant was tired of losing.
5 Sacramento Kings
After being down 20 points, Bryant and the Lakers came all the way back to make it a 2-point game in the 4th quarter. The Lakers were down 108-106 with 4.1 seconds and had one last shot to overcome a 20-point deficit for the first time in four years.
4 San Antonio Spurs
In the 2002 Western Conference Semi-Finals, the Spurs had an epic series, especially in game 4.
3 Toronto Raptors
No surprise here what moment Bryant had against the Raptors. In the first half of the game, Bryant had 26 points and the Raptors were leading the Lakers 63-49. In the second half, something took over Bryant as he went off for 55 points.
2 Utah Jazz
On November 30, 2006, two of the best Western Conference teams squared off. The Lakers came out strong in front of their home crowd, leading the Jazz 53-41 at halftime, but Bryant didn't feel like that was enough. He wanted to make statement against the 13-3 Jazz, who had the best record in the league at the time.
1 Washington Wizards
On March 23, 2003, the rematch that everybody thought they would never seen actually happened. Michael Jordan came out of retirement to play for the Wizards and Bryant had a lot more experience since the two played in 1997. Although Jordan was nowhere near his prime at age 40, Bryant was going to cherish this moment against his basketball idol. Bryant was coming off a three-peat like his mentor, so his confidence was through the roof.
Bryant showed out on the old man Jordan, dropping 55 points on him and the Wizards. Meanwhile, Jordan finished with 24 points. Although Bryant was much better than Jordan at this point in his career, Bryant will never forget this game.
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