Remembering Los Angeles Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant

(Photo by Tolga Adanali/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Photo by Tolga Adanali/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) /

We remember Los Angeles Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant, who passed away, along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven other people, Sunday morning.

In the aftermath of the shocking death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, it is fitting to remember what a superlative basketball career he had.

Without question, he was one of the greatest players to wear a Lakers uniform. But also in retirement, his greatness as a man shined through his community leadership and his efforts at aiding children through positive story-telling.

As a player, Kobe was magnificent. He captured the hearts of both Lakers executives and LA sports fans, beginning with the time prior to the 1996 draft when Jerry West was blown away by the teenager’s workout for the Lakers and continuing up to the night in 2017 when the Lakers retired Bryant’s numbers 8 and 24 jerseys at Staples Center and Magic Johnson called him the greatest to wear the purple and gold.

In part, the preeminence of his extraordinary basketball career is reflected in some of his statistics:

  • Durability: Bryant played 20 seasons and 1,346 regular-season games in a Lakers uniform. That is six more years and 253 games more than anyone else played. He also participated in the most postseason games, 220, which is 27 more than any other Laker.
  • Total Points: Kobe scored 33,643 regular-season points, the fourth most in NBA history and 8,451 more than any other Laker scored. He also tallied 5,640 postseason points, fourth in the NBA and nearly 1,200 more than any other Laker.
  • Points Per Game: he ranks fourth on the team (minimum 200 games played) in both regular season (25.0) and postseason (25.6) points per game. In his prime, he averaged 25 or more PPG in 12 out of 13 seasons.
  • Single Game Scoring: fans will recall that he produced the second-highest single-game scoring output in NBA history, 81 points, one of six times he exceeded 60 points. He also scored 50 or more points in 26 games (10 times in the 2006-07 season, including 5 straight games). He tallied 40 or more points in 135 games (third all-time behind Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan) plus 12 more times in the playoffs.

Kobe also unbelievably scored 63 points in just three quarters (outscoring the entire Dallas team) in 2005. Plus, a Madison Square Garden record, for a visiting player, 61 points vs the Knicks in 2009, and a magical 60-point outburst in his final NBA game against Utah in 2016.

  • Playmaking: somewhat surprisingly for a player known for his shoot-first mentality, he ranks 7th on the team in average assists (and 30th in the NBA).
  • Awards & Honors: his teams made 7 NBA Finals and captured 5 NBA championships, equaling the most titles any Laker has ever won. Individually, the Black Mamba was named to 18 all-star teams, including each of his final 17 seasons. He was voted all-NBA 15 times, 12 on the first team, and also made 12 all-Defensive teams, 9 times on the first team. Kobe was voted league MVP once (while finishing in the top five 11 times), Finals MVP twice and all-star MVP four times.

Beyond the statistics and Kobe’s tremendous ability to put the ball in the basket, there was also his Warrior mentality. He drove his teams to the highest possible heights while setting an example with his unrelenting quest to improve his game.

It was that drive that led to his famous rift with one-time teammate Shaquille O’Neal, who did not share Bryant’s desire to work his hardest in the offseason. But in their prime, they formed one of the greatest duos in NBA history leading the team to three straight titles in 2000-02. After retiring, fortunately, the two mended their differences and renewed their friendship.

Bryant also had what Lakers announcer John Ireland called a “flair for the dramatic” with a well-deserved reputation as one of the all-time finest clutch players. He was at his best down the stretch of a game when his team needed him the most, often against the league’s best defenders.

Among those he burned at the buzzer were Portland’s Scottie Pippen and Ruben Patterson, San Antonio’s Bruce Bowen, Sacramento’s Doug Christie, current Lakers assistant coach and former Phoenix Suns Jason Kidd, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and current Laker and former Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James.

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Bryant will without question be voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. By rule, he isn’t eligible until 2021, five years after he retired, although it is conceivable that requirement may be waived in the wake of his death.

The Lakers retired both of his jerseys, numbers 8 and 24, in 2017. And Lakers owner Jeannie Buss has indicated, to nobody’s surprise, that a statue in Kobe’s honor will be erected outside Staples Center. Hopefully, that will occur sooner than later. All are fitting honors to one of the best players the league has ever seen.

In addition to Bryant, the Lakers have been graced with many of the greatest players in NBA history, including George Mikan in the 1950s when the team played in Minneapolis, Elgin Baylor and West, and later Chamberlain, in the 1960’s and early 70’s, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic and James Worthy in the Showtime 1980s, Shaq, and the current duo of LeBron and Anthony Davis.

Arguments could be made regarding which of these stars could be considered the greatest. But in terms of longevity, peak performance and contributions towards the success of the Lakers franchise success, Kobe Bryant must rank at or near the top.

Kobe’s success continued well after his basketball career ended. In 2018 his film, “Dear Basketball”, won an Oscar for the best animated short film. He also authored the best-selling book “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” and then began co-authoring a young adult book series, “The Wizenard Series”, with which he intended to inspire children to succeed.

Next. Kobe Bryant's Top 10 Games of All-Time. dark

That means that family, Lakers and NBA fans are not the only ones cheated by his demise. Fortunately, he left behind memories for all of us to cherish.

All statistics courtesy of