Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has accomplished historic feats on the court during his 20-year career that are probably too numerous to list. This is not that list.
Instead, here are five moments that encapsulate the unique swagger and the brand of “Kobe-ness” that is the Black Mamba.
1. That Time He Didn’t Flinch Over A Faked Matt Barnes Inbounds Pass To His Face
Bryant and former Lakers teammate Matt Barnes were never shy about showing their emotions on their court. But even when the two were on opposing teams, Kobe always seemed impervious to Barnes’ tough-guy image – even when Barnes pretended to throw a basketball inches from the Mamba’s grill.
2. That Time He Basically Reminded The Hornets Of The Franchise’s Greatest Fail
On July 1, 2014, Bryant was apparently inspired to commemorate the day the then-Charlotte Hornets thought it would be a good idea to select him with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft and then trade him to the Lakers in exchange for – wait for it – former center Vlade Divac.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 1, 2014
3. That Time He Blamed Spike Lee For His 61-Point Outburst At MSG
It wasn’t the biggest single-game scoring outburst of his career – he saved that for Toronto – but Kobe’s 61 points against the Knicks on Feb. 2, 2009, may have been on basketball’s biggest stage in front of lifelong Knicks fan Spike Lee at Madison Square Garden.
He even autographed a box score for the the “Do The Right Thing” director, writing “Spike this s— is your fault!!!!”
4. That Time He Painfully Posterized Dwight Howard
The two had yet to share a locker room for what would end up being a mostly dysfunctional – if not disastrous – stint as Laker teammates, but for some reason this iconic image of Bryant dunking on future ex-teammate and verbal target Dwight Howard feels prophetic.
At 6’11”, Howard certainly wasn’t the tallest player Kobe ever dunked on. But he may have been the most humiliated.
5. That Time He Trash-Talked The G.O.A.T. At The All-Star Game
Fresh off winning three straight NBA titles just six years into his career, Bryant must’ve been feeling awful sure of himself to go right at Bulls guard Michael Jordan, a.k.a. Greatest Of All Time, who quickly shut him up with one sentence: “You only got three (rings) now….I got six.”
Despite winning two more titles, Bryant ultimately came up short of catching Jordan. But the trash talk is still hilarious.