8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds – Greatest Game (Part 5 of 5)

Which of Kobe Bryant’s games were truly his greatest? What exactly makes a game “great”, anyway? I answer both questions, and more, in my epic 5 part finale.

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This is the finale of my 5 part series, covering Kobe’s greatest games. If you missed any of the first 4 parts, click the Kobe tag (or right here) to catch up!

#8

When people think of Kobe wearing his #8 jersey, they think of either one of two Kobe’s: Kobe with the afro, playing together with Shaq winning championships, or Kobe with the tattoo, jacking up shots because he had no one else to pass to. And both versions of Kobe have equally great games that we all remember.

Afro Kobe’s finest moment was undoubtedly Continue reading “8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds – Greatest Game (Part 5 of 5)”

8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds: Greatest Season (Part 4 of 5)

So many of these memories of Kobe have been particular moments. Which seasons as a whole represent the best versions of Kobe Bryant?

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This is part 4 of my 5 part series, covering Kobe’s greatest seasons. If you missed any of the first 3 parts, click the Kobe tag (or right here) to catch up!

#8

Now, because Kobe had to share the spotlight with Shaquille O’Neal, his statistical averages suffered a bit. Personally, after I have now seen what he was able to do on his own, and the way people view poor Scottie Pippen, I almost can’t blame the guy for wanting to spread his wings and fly solo. But, truth be told, he had one peak Kobe season under Shaq, the 2002-03 season, following the Lakers 3-Peat.

In this season, he dethroned Shaq as the team’s leading scorer with a 30 PPG average, while also yanking down nearly 7 rebounds (a career high), dishing out 5.9 assists, and 2.2 steals per game (a career high). He also averaged a career high 38.3% from behind the arc, and set the (then) NBA record for 3-pointers in a game with 12 against Ray Allen and the (then) Seattle Supersonics. He would go on to finish third in the NBA MVP voting (ahead of Shaq, who you might’ve forgotten amongst all of these numbers, was still his teammate).

And that’s all great, but I have to say his best season wearing #8 was Continue reading “8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds: Greatest Season (Part 4 of 5)”

8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds – Worst Moment (Part 3 of 5)

What? I love Kobe as much as the next Laker fan, but let’s be honest, Kobe pissed us all off at least once. This category’s goal is to remind us of what we have chosen to forget from each jersey.

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This is part 3 of my 5 part series, covering Kobe’s worst moment in each jersey. If you missed Part 1 or 2, click the Kobe tag (or right here) to catch up!

#8

When people have a bone to pick regarding Kobe, it’s always about how selfish he was. In his #8 jersey, Kobe’s worst games were not when he was shooting 30 times a game. They were, oddly enough, when he chose to pass the ball instead. In 2003-04, Kobe had games during the season where Phil Jackson criticized him for ignoring his team and shooting at a higher than normal clip. He infamously responded by ignoring his team and not shooting for a whole half of basketball in a late season matchup against the Sacramento Kings. His lack of aggressiveness in this critical regular season game, which the Lakers lost in blowout fashion, nearly cost his team the Pacific division championship.

In 2005-06, he single-handedly dragged the Lakers to the 7th seed of the playoffs and to the brink of victory against the 2nd seeded Phoenix Suns with a 3-1 series lead. After dropping the next two games, Kobe “quit” on his team in Game 7, taking only 3 shots in the 2nd half. Again, by choosing to be passive and not the player that averaged over 35 PPG during the season, the Lakers exited the first round of the playoffs with a whimper, having been pummeled by 31.

Having said that, all of this is trumped by him snitching on Shaq in 2003.

Were we all just going to sit here and pretend that didn’t happen?

Continue reading “8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds – Worst Moment (Part 3 of 5)”

8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds – Greatest Buzzer Beater (Part 2 of 5)

Probably most important when discussing Kobe Bryant was his ability to snatch a victory away from the opponent. And it’s what made him unique from any other player in his era.

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This is part 2 of my 5 part series, covering Kobe’s greatest buzzer beater in each jersey. If you missed Part 1: Greatest Dunk last week, click here to read it. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @cleanupglass, so I can update you on my next post, and give you my quick takes throughout the NBA season.

#8

Kobe has accumulated a library of buzzer beaters, game winners, and lead changing shots over the course of his career. Even early in his career, wearing #8, it seems like when the lights were brightest, Kobe shined brighter. Ask the Suns, when Kobe hit the Game 2 game winner over Jason Kidd, to put the Lakers up 2-0 in the 2000 Western Conference Semi-finals. Or, even better, you could ask the Blazers, when Kobe hit not one, but two ridiculous 3-pointers to give the Lakers a regular season win, and the 2004 Pacific Division Championship. Two shots in one regular season game, what could be more clutch than that?

Continue reading “8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds – Greatest Buzzer Beater (Part 2 of 5)”

8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds – Greatest Dunk (Part 1 of 5)

Two retired jerseys for one player? It happened. Now that we’ve all come to terms with that, here is the first moment of five that defines the player in each number.

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Kobe Bryant has not one, but two jerseys hanging from the rafters in Staples Center. By now, it’s too late for anyone to debate which jersey should be hanging if given the choice. And it’s even too late to debate which version of Kobe was best. You’ve read all of the stats, and they’re all very comparable: 16,866 points to 16,178, eight All-Stars to nine, three championships to two, zero MVP’s to one, zero Finals MVP’s to two… are you still there? I agree, it’s so boring. And the conclusion is always the same: #24 trumps #8. Yawn…

Allow me to unveil my arguments for 8 AND 24. As I stated earlier, there’s no point in arguing which number he was best in, as both jerseys proudly hang high in the stands (that is, until the Clippers play a home game. And since they can’t hide the shame they feel for their futility as a franchise, they’ll hide the Lakers successes). No matter what I say, nobody is going to climb back up there to take a jersey down because I happen to be right again. What my argument will decide is what should (not do, should) we remember most when we look up at those retired jerseys. From his Greatest Regular Season, to his Greatest Dunk, and even his Worst Moment, I guarantee nobody has a breakdown like this one.

Before I begin, I’d like to note that all stats in each part of this series were found, as always, at www.basketball-reference.com, unless sited otherwise.

Now, to begin the epic five part series (one for each ring), I present to you, my argument for:

Greatest Dunk

Continue reading “8 and 24: The Best of Both Worlds – Greatest Dunk (Part 1 of 5)”