Kobe Bryant made his name — and subsequent many nicknames — as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers but was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 with the 13th overall pick. It is safe to say that the trade did not work out in the Hornets’ favor and led to much success for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In his 20 seasons in Los Angeles, Kobe racked up numerous team records. He won an MVP award, five championships, made 15 All-NBA teams, 12 All-Defensive teams, 18 All-Star games and won two Finals MVPs. He finished his career as third on the all-time scoring list with 33,643 points and 14th in steals at 1,944.
His career has put him among the greats and etched into Lakers’ history. It is very rare that a player spends his entire career with one team. The ones that do often become legends within that organization, such as Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe.
Not only was Kobe one of the best at what he did, but he was also one of the toughest to ever play the game. He suffered numerous injuries throughout his career, such as really bad ankle and finger injuries. He continued to battle through the pain each night and still put up monster numbers.
The ultimate injury to his Achilles’ tendon started his career into it’s dwindling days. As that injury is one of the worst in sports and by that time he was 34 years old, so he didn’t have father time on his side.
Each season is unique in its own way and tells a story about his career. He had a lot of great years prior to his 2013 season where he tore his Achilles tendon. He was one of the most clutch players in the NBA to pair with his elite defense and elite offense. Kobe truly was special and bleeds the purple and gold.
The Lakers put on a touching memorial for Kobe, Gianna and the seven others that perished in a helicopter crash. There were laughs and cries, pain and joy. Vanessa Bryant gave a truly wonderful speech.
Now we will take a journey through Kobe’s 20-year career and re-live them down to the best. The game was never the same without Bryant when he retired. Even over a year after his passing, the sports world is still hurting.
Kobe’s seasons ranked from number 20 all the way to number one.
Ranking every Kobe Bryant season with the Lakers: 20. 2013-14
This was the toughest season of Kobe Bryant‘s career and the easiest choice for this list. He would make it all the way back from his torn Achilles tendon, but his season would only last six games. He sat out the first 19 games of the season to continue recovering, before making his return on December 8th, 2013.
In that game Bryant would play close to 28 minutes and struggle from the field, shooting 2-of-9 and 0-of-3 from 3-pointer. It was also expected, he looked very winded because he had not played in-game situations in close to eight months. It just goes to show that him making it back in less than eight months, how tough he was as a player and how much he loved the game.
He would go on to make his 16th All-Star game that season, voted in by his popularity. He would not play in that game due to his last game of the season coming on December 17th, 2013 vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. In that game he suffered a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee.
For the season Bryant finished averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds on shooting splits of 42.5/18.8/85.7. He also turned the ball over a career-high 5.7 times per night. His eFG% of 44.5% and TS% OF 50.5% were both the third-lowest of his career.
Overall his advanced stats were dreadful, posting a 98.6 offensive rating and 106.9 defensive rating, that comes out to a -8.3 net-rating. The Lakers were 2-4 with Kobe in the lineup and finished out a dismal season at 27-55 and Mike D’Antoni was gone after that.