Could Anthony Davis’ Buzzer Beater Be the Most Important in Lakers History?

(Image/Mark J. Terrill/AP)

With Anthony Davis creating his first legendary Lakers moment with a buzzer-beating game-winning three in game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, it begs the question, where does this shot rank in terms of great Lakers buzzer-beating game-winners?

In Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the formidable Denver Nuggets, Anthony Davis joined Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, and Metta World Peace in Laker players that have hit Playoff buzzer-beating game-winners. Let’s take a look at what each one meant to the franchise and find a suitable place within this small club for our new inductee.

Elgin Baylor‘s only buzzer-beating game-winner came on March 25th, 1964 in game 3 of the Western Division Semifinals against the St. Louis Hawks. Baylor would have 23 points on the night as he scored the final bucket in a game that was neck and neck throughout, finishing 107-105 in LA’s favour. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Baylor’s heroics didn’t mean a whole lot as they went on to lose the series 3-2.

When we look at Jerry West‘s clutch moments for the Lakers most remember his 60-foot heave in Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks, that sent the game into overtime. But in terms of playoff game-winning buzzer-beaters, West has two to his name. His first came in Game 3 of the 1962 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, intercepting a Celtics inbounds pass and racing up the floor for the layup, winning the game 117-115. His second came a year later in Game 2 of the NBA Western Division Finals against the Hawks, as he pulled up from 15 feet winning the game 101-99. Unfortunately for West, both of these occasions would end in Finals losses, both at the hands of the Celtics.

J. West steals the inbounds and races away for the buzzer-beating layup against the Celtics

Big Shot Bob has had his fair share of humongous playoff moments. His Laker moment would come in Game 3 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers were down 2 with the ball with 11.8 seconds left on the game clock. The Lakers would iso Bryant as he attacks the rim and misses. Shaquille O’Neal gets the rebound and puts it back up, he misses. Vlade Divac then bats the ball out towards the top of the three-point line, where Horry is waiting in a perfect storybook way. Horry catches and fires the 3 in one smooth motion, hitting the shot with ease as if he was still shooting around in a gym Southern Alabama. The importance of this shot can not be understated, if Horry doesn’t connect, the Kings go 3-1 up in the series and have the Lakers pinned against a wall. Instead, the Lakers beat the Kings in 7 and sweep the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 Finals.

R. Horry collects the rebound and fires away for the game-winning three against the Kings

Fisher is one of the Lakers most important role players of the last 5 title runs, in 2004 he proved this once again as he hit one of the most impressive buzzer beaters in NBA history. The Lakers are playing the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals as the series is 2-2. Tim Duncan had just made a fadeaway 18 footer to put the Spurs up 73-72 with 0.4 seconds left on the game clock. Gary Payton will inbound as O’Neal rolls round to the back of the crowd towards the rim, a potential lob threat. Bryant scrambles out towards Payton to receive the short pass. O’Neal is tied up at the rim, and Bryant is doubled. Fisher breaks towards Payton and the pass comes, in one motion Fisher catches the ball, plants both feet and jumps into the air, swinging his body towards the basket. He chucks a heave toward the rim, over both outstretched arms of Ginobli. It connects as the buzzer sounds, sending the Lakers into orbit. Unfortunately for LA, in the grand scheme of things this shot wouldn’t mean to much, as they would win the series in 6 and would go onto making the Finals, but 2004 would finish in disappointment for the purple and gold.

D. Fisher hits the miracle buzzer-beater three against the Spurs

One of the greatest Lakers of all-time, Bryant had 8 buzzer-beating game-winners in the purple and gold, but only one came in The Playoffs. This would come on April 30th, 2006 as LA played the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 of the First Round. LA are down by 1 in overtime as Walton wins a jump ball and Bryant controls it with 6 seconds left on the game clock. He drives the ball at the heart of the scrambled Phoenix Suns defence. Bryant gets to the right elbow and rises as Raja Bell and Boris Diaw contest. “Final seconds, Bryant for the win! BANG!”. This glory would be short-lived for the Lakers as they had just taken a 3-1 series lead, but would completely capitulate and lose in 7. A huge shot in the legacy of Kobe Bryant, but one that fades into obscurity in terms of Laker history.

K. Bryant hits his only playoff game-winner buzzer-beater of his career to beat the Suns

The final name on this list seems almost out of place, Metta World Peace etched his name into Laker folklore on May 27th, 2010 against the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The game was tied as LA had the inbound with 3.5 seconds left on the game clock. Bryant collects the inbound and fires up a contested 3 pointer for the win, but it comes up short. Non-other then World Peace comes darting into the paint to catch the airball. In one motion he controls and puts it back up, the ball pings off the window and rattles around the rim as it drops through. World Peace turns to Bryant and embraces him as the Staples Center explodes. In terms of importance, this shot was immense. With this shot going in the Lakers take a series lead at 3-2, finish the Suns in 6 and go onto win the NBA Finals in 7. If this shot doesn’t go in the game goes to overtime, the Lakers possibly lose and the Suns take a 3-2 lead as they go home for game 6.

M. World Peace fights for the rebound and finishes the put a=back to beat the Suns

So, now onto Anthony Davis. Looking at these other game-winners it is clear to see the two that hold major significance, Robert Horry and Metta World Peace. These are the two that lead to not only series wins, but later Finals victories. Anthony Davis‘ shot holds that kind of potential, the potential to go down as the greatest buzzer-beating game-winner in Laker history. The reason being the fact the Lakers are now 2-0 up in the Conference Finals as opposed to being 1-1. If they go on to win a championship this season, following a ten-year championship drought, depending on how this series goes, this Davis shot could go down in Laker history as the most important of all.

Anthony Davis shouts “Kobe!!!” as he Ices game 2 of the Western Conference Finals with a Buzzer Beater against the Denver Nuggets

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Is ‘Playoff Rondo’ a Real Thing?

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As the NBA season returns and the Playoffs fast approach, Lakers fans ask themselves whether the legend of ‘Playoff Rondo’ could come to fruition in Orlando.

Could Rajon Rondo play a major role in the Los Angeles Lakers gameplan as they head into the 2020 Playoffs? It seems that the jury is still out on this, but in this article, we will explore Rondo’s past playoff performances and, whether there is an upward turn compared to the corresponding regular season.

Rondo has played 13 seasons in the NBA and, has been a part of 8 different post-seasons. We’ll work our way through each, starting with his sophomore season with the Boston Celtics and finishing with his most recent playoff appearance with the New Orleans Pelicans in the summer of 2018.

NEXT: 2007-’08

The Lakers Bubble Performance Review – Part 2

(Image/Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBA.com)

As the second week of games within Walt Disney World come to an end, let’s take a look at how the Los Angeles Lakers have done. Exploring the positives and negatives of each result.

In the final week of the regular season, the Lakers have continued their very busy schedule as they hurtle towards the postseason. Playing against the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and the Sacramento Kings in less than seven days.

Following each game, we have taken note of the main talking points and the main pro and con of each 48-minute encounter. We’ll take a look at each individually, and decide whether the Lakers are on the right course or if some slight adjustment is needed as the league heads into its 74th postseason.

NEXT: Houston Rockets

The Greatest Lakers of All-Time: A Summary – Part 2

(Image/USA TODAY Sports)

Over the last couple of months, Lakers UK has been running polls through its social media channels to decide the Top 16 Greatest Lakers of All-Time. Following 2000+ votes through both Twitter and Instagram, the list is complete. For each player, we compiled an article chronicling their greatest moments in the Purple and Gold. In this 2 part series, we have compiled at an exert from each.

In the Lakers storied 72 season history the franchise has seen the grace of many truly great players. For the organisations first 12 years, theses Legends would ply their trade at the Minneapolis Auditorium. The team would then move out West, setting up camp in the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The arena would see it’s very own set of legends in its 31 seasons of service to the franchise. The Staples Center would then become the Lakers next dwelling, seeing its own collection of player deserving of their retired number status.

In this 2 part Count down of these greats, we will of course begin with number 16 and work our way down the list to who followers of Lakers UK decided is The Greatest Laker of All-Time. In this 2nd article we will continue at number 8, but if you did miss Part 1, make sure to check it out.

NEXT: Elgin Baylor

The Lakers Bubble Performance Review – Part 1

(Image/Garrett Ellwood/NBA.com)

As the first week of games within Walt Disney World come to an end, let’s take a look at how the Lakers have done, exploring the positives and negatives of each result.

Since the regular season resumed on the 30th of July the Lakers have had an action-packed week. Playing against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Toronto Raptors, the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder in less than seven days.

Following each game, we have taken note of the main talking points and the main pro and con of each 48-minute encounter. We’ll take a look at each individually, and decide whether the Lakers are on the right course or if some slight adjustment is needed as the league heads into its 74th postseason.

NEXT: Los Angeles Clippers

The Greatest Lakers of All-Time: A Summary – Part 1

(Image/Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Over the last couple of months, Lakers UK has been running polls through its social media channels to decide the Top 16 Greatest Lakers of All-Time. Following 2000+ votes through both Twitter and Instagram, the list is complete.

For each player, we compiled an article chronicling their greatest moments in the Purple and Gold. In this 2 part series, we have compiled at an exert from each.

In the Lakers storied 72 season history the franchise has seen the grace of many truly great players. For the organisations first 12 years, theses Legends would ply their trade at the Minneapolis Auditorium. The team would then move out West, setting up camp in the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The arena would see it’s very own set of legends in its 31 seasons of service to the franchise. The Staples Center would then become the Lakers next dwelling, seeing its own collection of player deserving of their retired number status.

In this 2 part Count down of these greats, we will of course begin with number 16 and work our way down the list to who followers of Lakers UK decided is The Greatest Laker of All-Time.

NEXT: Michael Cooper

3 Reasons Why the Lakers Need Danny Green

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Many Laker fans feel that Danny Green’s performance in the 2019-20 season has been a disappointment. In actuality, the 10-year veteran is a key part in the Los Angeles Lakers fulfilling their potential and winning an NBA Championship.

Danny Green is a player that certainly has his critics throughout fans across the league. Many believe the Green Ranger hasn’t been worth the $30 million contract he signed with the Lakers back in 2019.

In all fairness, when looking at Green’s stats on face value, they can be considered slightly disappointing. He currently averages 8.2 PPG, 1.4 APG and 3.4 RPG. If we compare those numbers to the season he had in 2018-19 while he was with the Toronto Raptors, we’ll see that he has suffered a drop of 2.1 PPG, 0.2 APG and 0.6 RPG.

With all that considered, the Lakers still need Green’s contributions in order to compete for an NBA Championship. Let’s take a closer look at what Green brings to the table.

NEXT: Spacing the Floor

The 3 Young Lakers Who Could Shine in Orlando

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As the season comes to an end and the Lakers lock up the 1 seed in the West, it is inevitable that Frank Vogel will make the decision to rest his superstars. Luckily for the Laker faithful, there are 3 players sat at the end of the bench hungry for the opportunity.

The Lakers currently sit atop of the Western Conference with a record of 49-14, their closest competition is the Los Angeles Clippers as they hold a record of 44-20. With the 8 competitive regular-season games they are scheduled to play in Orlando, it won’t be long before the Lakers are to far adrift from their competition as they look to secure the 1 seed.

In this eventuality, it is likely that the Lakers coaching staff look into other options as they attempt to give the starters as much rest as possible prior to the start of the Playoffs.

Luckily for Frank Vogel and Co., 3 youthful talents have travelled with the team to Florida. The first is a 6’4″ rookie that the Lakers selected with the 46th pick in last years NBA draft, Talen Horton-Tucker. The second is a player who is mostly mentioned in the same sentence as his better-known brother, but he is a talent in his own right, Kostas Antetokounmpo. And the third is G-League phenomenon who could be destined for big things, Devontae Cacok. We’ll take a look at all 3 and consider what we can expect from the promising trio.

NEXT: Talen Horton Tucker

The Greatest Lakers of All-Time: Kobe Bryant – No. 24

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This is the seventeenth in a series of articles featuring a countdown of the Top 16 Greatest Lakers of All-Time, as decided by the followers of Lakers UK on Twitter and Instagram.

Finishing with number 1 – Kobe Bryant. For this special article, we’ll take an in-depth look at his greatest game wearing number 24, following on from Part 1 where we looked at his time wearing number 8.

Playing his whole 20 season career in the Purple and Gold, lifetime Laker fan Bryant made his way to LA after being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. Leading the Lakers in several categories, Bryant is first in games (1,346), minutes (48,637), made field goals (11.719), made 3 pointers (1,827), made free throws (8,378), steals (1,944) and points (33,643). He is also second in assists (6,306) and third in rebounds (7,047).

Bryant would change his number from 8 to 24 for the start of the 2006-’07 season, selecting 24 by virtue of it being the first number he wore in High School. With this, he would continue his elite form as he led the league in points for the second year in a row, 31.6 PPG. Despite this the Lakers struggled to be competitive during Number 24’s first season, winning 42 games and getting beaten 4-1 by the Phoenix Suns in the First Round of the 2007 Playoffs.

This bad form would last until early 2008 as the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol, an All-Star calibre Center to pair with their flamethrower of a Shooting Guard (Bryant had just come off of 2 straight scoring titles, he would also go on to win the 2007-08 MVP). The arrow would begin to point in the right direction for LA as they went to 3 straight finals and won 2 straight championships 2009 and 2010.

The following season would see the Lakers capitulate. Attempting to run it back one more time (getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the Semifinals) before the changes began to flow. Phil Jackson would retire as Mitch Kupchak attempted to trade his ageing core for a young Chris Paul, a trade that was vetoed by NBA Commissioner David Stern for what he called “basketball reasons”. This would lead to hurt feelings as the bridge between the front office and Lamar Odom (he was involved in the cancelled transaction) was burned, forcing Kupchak to give up the raining 6th man of the year for a protected 1st round pick.

Capitulation would continue to take a downward spiral as the Lakers tried desperately to build a competitor around their ageing legend. Players like Ramon Sessions, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Nick Young, Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer would follow as Bryant battled injury and the team fell into the lottery. As the team’s record got worse and worse, Bryant decided to call it a day on his 20 season career at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Similarly, Bryant had some equally amazing moments wearing the number 24. One would be his first championship without O’Neal in 2009. Bryants Lakers would beat the Orlando Magic in 5 games as Kobe averaged 32.4 PPG, 7.4 APG and 5.6 RPG to win his first Finals MVP and earn himself his 4th championship. Of course, you can’t mention 2009 without 2010, where the Lakers faced their dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, in the Finals following defeat in 2008. Bryant made sure history would not repeat itself as he averaged 28.6 PPG, 3.9 APG and 8 RPG and won his 2nd consecutive Finals MVP. Not to mention delivering the Purple and Gold number 16. As number 8 saw the rise of a legend, number 24 witnessed the fall of one. A true example of this would take the form of Bryant rupturing his left Achilles’ tendon in the final minute of the 3rd to last game of the 2013 NBA season. Bryant would proceed to get up and make 2 free throws before walking off the court all on his own strength. Truly exhibiting Mamba Mentality.

But for his number 24 review, we have selected the final game of his NBA career in which he scored 60 points.

Number 24 Says Goodbye

(Image/Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

It’s the 13th of April 2016, the Los Angeles Lakers are playing the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center. Going into the game the Lakers held a record of 16-65. Bryant had announced his plan to retire back in November following a 2-14 start for the Purple and Gold. This would begin an epic farewell tour for Bryant as the Lakers carried out their regular season schedule, suddenly, every game was an event.

Up until his final game, Bryant had managed to play 65 of a possible 81 game, averaging 16.9 PPG. A vast contrast to the player that won 2 scoring titles and an MVP in 3 consecutive seasons, averaging 31.7 PPG between 2005-2008. The fans had gotten used to the older statesmen Bryant had now become and didn’t let expectations get too high for his finally. The closest to pressure was a conversation on national TV between Bryant and his old teammate Shaquille O’Neal, where O’Neal jokingly requested that Bryant score 50 in his final game. Bryant first replyed with laughter before delivering a very definite “No”.

Magic Johnson would speak before the game, calling Kobe “The greatest to wear the Purple and Gold”. Also reminding fans that Kobe “has scored 25 times over 50 points. He’s scored over 60 points 5 times. And then we all knew where we were when he scored 81 points!”. He would then introduce a video of Bryant’s former teammates and opponents saying there own thank you’s.

Bryant’s final 48 minutes of NBA basketball would then begin. He would struggle to score to begin with, as number 24 went 0/5 from the field early as his teammate fed him the rock on every possession. His first bucket would come following an excellent defensive play. Blocking Trevor Booker from behind as he went up for a seemingly uncontested lay-up. Bryant set off in the opposite direction. Coming up the left side of the court in possession of the basketball, Bryant would be met by Gordon Hayward just inside the 3 point line. Bryant gives a little head fake as he crosses right to left, jump stopping just left of the paint. A pump fake would follow before finishing the floater under heavy contest inside. Mamba was on the board, the score is tied 6-6 with 5 minutes left in the 1st.

Things would then start to flow a little easier for Bryant, as he gets his second make quickly after. He receives the ball from D’Angelo Russell on the left-wing as Hayward is immediately on his right hip. Roy Hibbert comes over to set the screen for Bryant, allowing him to lose Hayward. He would then perform a little hesitation dribble with his left hand before crossing to his right and pulling up from 15 feet. Hitting back iron before dropping through, Bryant now has 4 points.

Bryant hot streak would continue with an assault on the rim. He picks the ball up on the right-wing, now guarded by Rodney Hood. Bryant would take a couple half jab steps before driving baseline, leaving Hood behind. Taking 2 dribbles towards the paint before gathering, Bryant has his eyes set on the rim. Using his body, he prevents Jeff Withey from getting a hand on the ball as Kobe finishes with the reverse. Withey fouls him on the follow-through, giving Bryant the and-1 opportunity. Finishing the charity shot with ease, Bryant now has 7 points as LA lead 11-7.

Bryant then has a couple catch and shoot buckets. The first of which comes as the shot clock ticks down. Receiving the ball in the right corner as the clock hits 6 seconds, Bryant puts it up with Hood’s hand obscuring his view of the rim. This, however, makes no difference as the ball laces the net, Bryant’s foot was just on the 3 point line. The next would come immediately after as Bryant gets up the floor in early offence. Catching a cross-court pass from Marcelo Huertas, Bryant stands on the right-wing and fires away from 3 point land. Contention from Joe Ingles was not enough to put Vino off as he swishes the 3. Now with 12 points, Bryant has hit 5 straight. “KOBE!” chants ring out throughout the Staples Center as LA lead 16-14.

Bryant would finish the 1st with 15 points as his final play of the quarter results in a shooting foul from beyond the 3 point line, Hood getting a little two physical as he tries to put out Bryant’s hot streak. He steps to the line to shoot 3, connecting on each. The quarter ends 21-19 in the Jazz’s favour as Bryant drives any offensive success the Lakers had.

Bryant would start the 2nd quarter on the bench, checking in at the 6-minute mark as the Jazz lead 33-29. His first field goal of the 2nd would come about a minute later. Kobe picks up the ball at the high right short corner, Hayward attached to his hip. Bryant pivots a full 360 in two quick steps before faking left and driving baseline. Wrong footing Hayward, Bryant gets all the way to the rim and finishes the two-handed layup. He now has 17 points.

Bryant would then get another point as he is fouled on a mid-range jumper, going 1/2 at the strike this time. He would then hit from 3 on the very next possession. Catching the ball at the left-wing, Trey Lyles is forced to race out and contest off the switch. Bryant fakes Lyles into the air before taking a single dribble and pulling up, dropping the 3 as he puts his points total beyond 20. Jazz lead 43-37.

The volume shooting would continue from Bryant as he misses his next few field goal attempts, getting his final point of the quarter at the line with about 30 seconds left. Fouled once again as Booker tries to halt the Mamba’s attack on the rim. Going 1/2 once again, Bryant finishes the half with 22 of the Lakers 42 points as Utah scores 57 on the leaky defence of the 2015/16 Lakers.

Number 24 would get his first bucket of the 2nd half after about a minute and a half of play. Picking the ball up on the left-wing, Bryant takes a dribble right before crossing and driving left. Beating Hood, Bryant dribbles past his number 8 that is emblazoned on the court as he drives to the rim. As he gets there he is met by the duo of Lyles and Withey. Jumping into the air, Bryant switches hands mid-flight to finish over the challenge. He now has 24 points.

This would spur Bryant on to attack the rim a couple more times. The first coming as he receives the ball at the left-wing once again. Bryant attacks off the right foot this time, forcing his way into the paint. He dribbles from left to right across the paint before turning 180 degrees and going back to the left side of the block. Hayward is staying with Vino as he struggles to get some space, finally gaining it as he bumps off of Hayward’s chest and fades, connecting with the short-range jumper from 8 feet. The second would come as he misses a 3 point jumper. Hibbert bats the rebound out towards the top of the 3 point line, where Bryant is stood. He collects the ball and rolls into the key, beating the flat-footed Shelvin Mack. He gathers the ball as he reaches the paint and puts in the open lay-up, looking for a second that he was going to go for the dunk. Hubie Brown remarks “They wanted a dunk though. They’re happy with the hoop, if he ever dunked it they would’ve fallen out of their seats”.

After scoring 6 points in 55 seconds, Bryant has 28 points in just 20 minutes of basketball as the Jazz lead has been cut to 9, 59-50. Bryant would have to wait a couple minutes before scoring again. He has the ball on the left wing with 8 seconds left on the shot clock. He has a live dribble and uses it to attack Hayward’s left foot, catching him off guard. Bryant has made it into the paint and is once again met with contention from all angles. He jumps and hangs in the air as he puts up the shot under heavy contest from Lyles. The ball bounces on the rim twice before dropping through. The very next trip down the floor would see Bryant score once again, this time with a classic Kobe move. Bryant isolates on the right-wing, guarded by Raul Neto. He fakes the 360 spin baseline once before going on the second. Neto stays right with him as Bryant jumps and fades, hitting the contested 12 footer and giving himself 32 points.

Bryant’s next shot would come from beyond the arc. He gets the ball in the right corner and Ingles has his right hand directly in Bryant’s face. Kobe takes a couple seconds while he decides on his plan of attack. He then jumps into the air and fades out of bounds, firing up the high difficulty contested shot. He hits with 100% accuracy as it splashes through the net. “35 on the farewell night for Kobe, putting on a show one last time!”

Bryant would get his final score of the 3rd with about a minute to go. Huertas delivers the ball to Bryant on the left-wing. Ingles knocks the ball free but Bryant regains possession. Ingles then shows him the outside lane as he expects the shot. Bryant takes the open lane and drives into the paint. Withey is the challenger this time as Bryant jump stops into the paint. Withey has his chest right up against Bryant as number 24 fakes and then puts up the difficult lay-up. The ball falls through as it bounces done off the glass.

The Jazz remain in the lead, 75-66, as the teams head into the 4th. Bryant finishes the 3rd with 37 points in 30 minutes, a challenge in itself, forgetting the fact Bryant is 37 years of age. Despite this, the tired Bryant’s best quarter of his ultimate goodbye was yet to be seen. As the broadcast throws to commercial commentary reminds viewers “Micheal scored 15 in his final game, Kobe’s trying to get to 50”.

The start of Bryant’s final quarter would be a slow one, forcing up 3 heavily contested shots as he tries to get himself going. Bryant finally finds his stroke as the Lakers run in early offence. Huertas has the ball as he reaches the top of the key. Looking around for an outlet pass, he finds the trailing Bryant at the left-wing. Bryant pulls from 25 feet and the ball hits the bottom of the net. “A 40 point game for the 122nd time, for the first time since November of 2014!”.

The very next possession up the floor, Bryant hits yet another 3. Picking the ball up at the top of the 3 point line, Bryant waits for a Tarik Black screen. Ingles gets caught on the screen as Bryant takes a dribble to the right, forcing Booker to switch out onto the perimeter. Bryant takes a quick hesitation dribble before firing away. The ball rattles through the hoop as the crowd rises to their feet. Bryant now has 43, he now has the most points scored by any NBA player in their final NBA game. The Jazz remain in the lead, 85-76.

A couple minutes would go by before the now exhausted Bryant scores once again. He brings the ball up the floor as Black rushes over to set another screen. Bryant uses it as he goes left, losing Hayward and met by Withey just inside the 3 point line. Bryant performs a little stutter step before crossing back to his right and pulling up in one fluid motion. The foul line jump shot drops through as Mamba ignores the 3 Jazz players hands in his vision, “45!”. The Lakers were now within striking distance of the Jazz for the first time since halfway through the 2nd quarter, 87-84 with 5:30 left.

About 2 minutes would go by before number 24 would score again, this time giving LA one last run, one final takeover. The beginning of this would come in the form of an assault on the cylinder. Bryant brings the ball up the left-wing and works his way into the high post. He spins baseline and gets inside underneath Hayward’s challenge. Now underneath the rim, Bryant fakes and sends Lyles into the air, leaving the open lay-up for the 20-year vet to finish. 47 points for Bryant.

As Vino carries the rock up the court on the next possession LA are now down by 10 following a Utah run, 2:30 left. Bryant’s next 2 points come at the line as he continues to find new ways to get to the rim after so long, getting fouled by Hayward. Kobe goes 2/2 as he ticks up to 49 points, now just 1 away from O’Neal’s request.

Utah comes up the floor and misses as Randle gets the rebound, immediately giving it to Bryant. He carries it up in early offence as his audience rises in anticipation. Coming up the right-wing he losses Mack and is now tracked by Booker. He jump stops into the paint, putting up a high arcing layup. The ball hits the glass and drops through. “Kobe Bryant, a 50 point game in his farewell!”. The broadcast cuts to his ecstatic wife and kids as the teams come back down the floor. 6 point game.

The Jazz bring the ball up and turn it over, travelling violation. Whilst waiting for the inbound, Bryant can be seen wincing in pain, he is going to leave everything out on this floor. Randle brings the hard screen, in response the Jazz try and double. Bryant sees this and splits the attempt, getting himself to the right elbow. He pulls up from mid-range as Hayward throws a hand in his line of sight. Despite this, it hits the bottom of the net. “53! Unbelievable stuff tonight!”. Its a 4 point game, Kobe Bryant was putting the Purple and Gold on his back one last time!

Hayward misses a 3 with 1:10 left, Larry Nance secures it. Bryant carries the ball to the left-wing as Randle sets a pick on Ingles. Bryant continues towards the left corner, now guarded by Lyles. Bryant stutters steps and gathers. He shoots the 25-foot fadeaway jumper with a hand in his face AND HITS! The city of Los Angeles implodes in celebration of their superman. 96-95 with a minute left in the game.

Jazz call timeout as Bryant sits down on the Laker bench, hunched over and breathing heavily, exhaustion is written all over his face and body. “Every last bit of him being left out here tonight. He’s scored the Lakers last 13. He has 56 points”.

Utah miss coming out off the timeout as Russell pulls down the rebound and gives it to Bryant. “The Lakers down 1, will Kobe give them one last gamer?”. Randle rushes out to set the hard pick on Hayward. Bryant takes a couple steps left, using the Randle screen. Bryant crosses and comes back towards the right side of the court as Randle resets the screen. Bryant peels around and is looking for the shot. “Bryant, on the move, with the jumper”. The ball floats through the air as The Black Mamba holds the swan neck.

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(Image/NBA.com)

“HE GOT IT! 58 POINTS! AND THE LAKERS LEAD!”

LA takes the lead for the first time since the 1st quarter, all thanks to the heroics of a Laker legend. The score is 97-96 with 31 seconds left as Quin Snyder calls for time. The broadcast throws to commercial, “He has been great, and on his final night, its one last glimpse, of greatness”.

“The most points scored in the NBA this season, Anthony Davis scored 59 for New Orleans in Detriot on a Sunday night in February. On the final night of his brilliant, Hall of Fame, 20-year career, Kobe Bryant’s 1 shy of that”. “Bryant has played the last 30 minutes without a break”.

The Jazz come out of the break and can’t get a make as Lyles attacks the bucket. There is a scramble for the rebound before the ball is secured by Jordan Clarkson. The shot clock is now turned off, Utah are forced to foul. They have a foul to give so LA will inbound. Bryant gets himself open as he pushes off of Hayward and catches the pass, he is immediately fouled with 14.8 seconds left.

“Here’s Bryant, 2 free throws for 60”. As he steps to the line he uses his jersey to wipe the sweat from his eyes. A nod to the official as he wipes the sweat from his fingertips on his jersey. The same age-old routine would follow. Holding the ball against his hip with his left hand he takes a deep breath. He then bounces the ball twice as he looks up at the rim. He would then hold for a second with another deep breath before raising his arms and releasing the ball, it drops through, 59. The routine continues as he steps forward to touch hands with Randle and Nance before looking back towards Russell and Clarkson. He turns back to the line and the method repeats itself almost exactly. And of course, the result is exactly the same. “60”.

Following this, the Lakers are now up 3 as Hayward runs the ball up the floor and tries to finish inside. He is unsuccessful as Randle catches the loose ball and gets it to Bryant. Number 24 launches the ball ahead to the breaking Clarkson, he catches the ball, takes a dribble and throws down an emphatic two-hand dunk as the Staples Center blasts into pure elation. LA lead 101-96 with 4.1 to go, Utah call timeout.

The camera cuts to a debilitated Bryant, patting the left side of his chest in appreciation of the moment. As he turns to walk to the bench he is met by the future of the league he leaves behind, first Nance, quickly followed by Russell, Clarkson and Randle as they all share in this moment of gratitude for Los Angeles’ worn soldier.

Bryant would continue to make his way to the bench as he shared one last moment on the floor of the Staples Center with his former partner Shaquille O’Neal. Sharing one last embrace, “Kobe and Shaq, together one more time, in a moment of Laker glory”.

Bryant would come back onto the floor following the timeout, but he had played his final moment of NBA basketball. Leaving the game before play started again, allowing him to get the laudation he so justly warranted. The crowd says goodbye to their hero one final time as he points to the heavens and thanks his Laker family. The name “KOBE!” rings out amongst the darkness of the building as we say our final farewell.

After the final buzzer Bryant would speak to his fans all around the world:

On an emotional night, Bryant played 42 minutes in his final game, scoring 60 points at 37 years of age. Securing himself the record of most points in a farewell game by any player. Truly one of his greatest games wearing number 24!

The Greatest Laker of All-Time

(Image/Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

After leaving High School at 18 and originally being drafted with the number 13 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, the rights to Bryant were immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. In his 20 years wearing the Purple and Gold Bryant earned an All-Rookie Team selection, 2 NBA scoring titles, 18 NBA All-Star Selections, 4 NBA All-Star MVPs, 3 NBA All-Defensive Second Team selections, 9 NBA All-Defensive First Team selections, 2 All-NBA Third Team selections, 2 All-NBA Second Team selections, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, an NBA MVP, 5 NBA Championships, 2 NBA Finals MVPs, and later an induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Following Bryant’s death, on 26th of January 2020, there was an outpouring of love not only in Los Angeles but across the world. Fans of the game worldwide expressed their condolences and shared stories of their own special moments as they remembered Kobe. A true legend that did not only transcend basketball but life itself as young fans today still learn of the legend of Kobe Bean Bryant.

In 2017 the franchise made it so no other Laker would wear number 8 or number 24 again. Hanging his jerseys in the rafters of the Staples Center. Becoming the 10th player to have his number retired by the Los Angeles Lakers and the only player to have two numbers retired by the same organisation. All these achievements and the many memories he has left us with more than cement his place at the top of this list of true Laker greats!


Check out Lakers UK’s podcast The Lake Lake Show on all podcast platforms. Including Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

Lakers UK are proud affiliate partners of Fanatics UK and the NBA Store Europe. We do possess unique promotional codes for both websites that can offer our readers and followers 10% off site-wide through the following weblinks.

Fanatics UK: http://tinyurl.com/y4vjv32b and enter the promotional code LAKERSUK10 at checkout to receive 10% off. This is not limited to just NBA apparel, but the discount can be used on MLB, NFL, NHL, Football/Soccer gear also!

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The Greatest Lakers of All-Time: Kobe Bryant – No. 8

(Image/Jennifer Pottheiser/NBA/Getty Images)

This is the sixteenth in a series of articles featuring a countdown of the Top 16 Greatest Lakers of All-Time, as decided by the followers of Lakers UK on Twitter and Instagram.

Finishing with number 1 – Kobe Bryant. For this special article, we’ll take an in-depth look at his greatest game wearing number 8, with Part 2 to follow as we will look at his time wearing number 24.

Playing his whole 20 season career in the Purple and Gold, lifetime Laker fan Bryant made his way to LA after being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. Leading the Lakers in several categories, Bryant is first in games (1,346), minutes (48,637), made field goals (11.719), made 3 pointers (1,827), made free throws (8,378), steals (1,944) and points (33,643). He is also second in assists (6,306) and third in rebounds (7,047).

In his two decades with the franchise, Bryant featured in many different iterations of the Lakers. Beginning as Number 8 with the threepeat team of the early 2000s, seeing Bryant grow into an offensive force to pair with a peak Shaquille O’Neal, resulting in 3 championships between 2000-2002. Unfortunately failing to win a 4th straight title in 2004 as Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined the Purple and Gold. This was the fortune of a surprise loss suffered to the Detriot Piston in the NBA Finals.

Following the departure of O’Neal in ’04, the team would then go into the franchise player years as LAs front office desperately tried to put effective pieces around a peak Kobe Bryant, failing miserably. Mamba’s last 2 seasons wearing number 8 would be 2 of his best individually, averaging 27.6 PPG in ’04-’05 before besting that and scoring 35.4 PPG in ’05-’06, winning himself his first scoring title.

2005-’06 would be Kobe’s final season donning number 8, opting to switch to his first High School number, 24. Bryant selected number 8 as a nod to his childhood in Italy, wearing the number as a young child as he played with his youth basketball team. To go along with this, Bryant attended an Adidas youth training camp before entering the league, he was randomly selected to wear number 143, 1+4+3=8. A number Bryant selected by chance now holds such a stark significants in the evolution and story of The Black Mamba.

Bryant had some great moments wearing the number 8 on his back. One would be the 28 points he scored against the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals. He went from missing most of Game 2 and all of Game 3 with a sprained ankle to playing 47 of a possible 53 minutes and leading the Lakers to a 120-118 overtime victory. Another would be the alley-oop he threw to Shaquille O’Neal in the final minute of Game 7 of the 2000 NBA Western Conference Finals. Yet another would be the 62 points he scored in 3 quarters against the Dallas Mavericks on the 20th of December 2005. Going 18/31 from the field and shooting 22/25 as he scored 62 of the Lakers 112 points.

Despite all this, for Kobe’s number 8 review we have selected the 81 points he scored against the Toronto Raptors in the 2005-06 season.

Number 8’s 81

(Image/Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)

It’s the 22nd of January 2006, the Los Angeles Lakers are playing the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center. The team were back in LA following an unsuccessful road trip, first, an overtime loss in Sacramento, 118-109 before losing 106-93 in Phoenix. Leaving them with a record of 21-19 going into the game against the team from north of the border.

Bryant was tearing a hole in defensive schemes throughout the league, averaging 34.8 PPG throughout the first 40 games. Leading the league in scoring with the only player anywhere close being Allen Iverson (33.4 PPG). As for scoring for the rest of the team, it was a real struggle, the next highest was Lamar Odom with 14.6 PPG.

As for the game, Bryant would get his first 4 points early on. First driving the lane from the left-wing, beating Morris Peterson off the dribble and finishing with the reverse layup. He would then hit a difficult 20-foot fadeaway jumper on the very next possession. Coming around from the right elbow to the top of the key, collecting the ball from Kwame Brown. He then fakes left before spinning 180 degrees to the right and hitting over the top of Peterson. LA is up 7-6.

Bryant would then miss his next couple opportunities as the Raptors go on a run, going up 21-11 before Phil Jackson calls timeout, 5:18 left in the quarter. Bryant would get his next score as the teams come back, managing to wriggle free using a pick from Chris Mihm. Confusion on the switch led to Bryant getting an open long 2 point jumper from the top of the key, a charity shot for prime Kobe. He now has 6.

Bryant’s next bucket would come as he collects the rebound following Chris Bosh missing the mid-range jumper. He runs the ball up the court, using Browns screen to get the switch. Now guarded by Jalen Rose, Bryant drives to the right of the paint. He fakes a 360 spin to the left before fading away to the right and shooting. The ball banks off the glass and it drops in, 23-17 with 3:47 left, Bryant has 8.

Bryant would next score as he attacks the rim once again. Collecting the ball in the right high post. He turns to face Peterson before driving off his right foot, jump stopping past him and finishing inside. Bryant would then go to the charity shot twice before the end of the quarter, connecting on all 4 shots and putting his points total up to 14 to finish the 1st, Toronto lead 36-29.

Kobe would start the 2nd quarter on the bench, sitting out 6 minutes before getting in the game once again, the score is 46-32 in the Raptors favour. Bryants first bucket would come almost straight away, hitting the contested corner 3 to secure himself 17 of the Lakers 35 points.

Over the next couple possession, both teams struggled to score. Bryant misses 3 jump shots along the way as he goes full tunnel vision in terms of scoring. His next successful trip up the floor would come at the rim. Devean George has the ball on the left-wing as Kobe stands at the top of the 3 point line. Mihm comes to the top of the key as George darts the ball into him, meanwhile, Bryant dives around the back of Mihm. Mihm bounces the ball to his left as he stands with his back to the rim and sets a screen on Bryants man, Eric Williams. Bryant catches the bounce pass and continues his trajectory towards the rim, leaping up and finishing hard over the top of Matt Bonner. Cutting the Raptors lead to 13, 52-39.

Bryant now has 19 as the clock ticks down past 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, even with little time left in the half the Black Mamba was far from finished with his attacking play. He would score again as LA run their offence once again. Bryant catches the ball at the top of the 3 point line, takes one dribble to his right as he moves inside the line and shoots, releasing the ball as quick as he collected it to shoot, the off leg flaring out in the famous way fans will recognise, it swishes through. He now has 21 points.

Bryant would continue his flourish of scoring throughout the final minute. He would be fouled as he attacks the bucket on the fastbreak. Going to the line to shoot 2, he hits the first. The second bounces in and out as the rebound is smacked back out towards Bryant, who secures it. He bounces once and gathers to prevent turning it over. With nowhere to go, he takes a step into the paint and puts the ball up and in. Scoring again on his next possession, Bryant brings the ball up the floor and calls for the screen. Mihm comes out and delivers it. Bryant sprints around and euro steps his way past Bosh in the paint and finishes with a right-handed lay-up.

That would see the end of the half, as Bryant finishes with 26 points (going 10/18 from the field) with the rest of the Lakers team scoring 23 points combined. The Raptors have dominated offensively, scoring 63 points to compare to the Lakers 49 points.

Bryant would continue his tunnel vision approach as he missed his first 2 jumpers of the 3rd, scoring on his 3rd attempt. He picks up the ball on the right-wing as the Lakers run in early offence. Bryant takes a hard dribble with his right before gathering the ball and taking 3 long strides towards the right side of the cylinder, finishing with his right hand. Only a couple possessions would go by before Bryant scores again. Picking the ball up at the high left corner, he fakes the quick shot before driving baseline, wrong-footing his man, Bosh. Bryant takes 2 dribbles with his left hand before rising for the baseline jumper, connecting over the top of Bosh and Bonner. Kobe now has 30 as the Lakers are down 16, Toronto leads 69-53.

Bryant’s next few buckets come in quick succession as he begins to find his range with his jump shot. The first of which coming as Bryant picks up the ball at the top of the 3 point line. He takes a moment as he sizes up how he is going to beat Rose. Decision made, Bryant takes a quick hesitation step inside the 3 point line before rising up and lacing the net from 21 feet. Beginning to catch fire, Bryant would then pull up contested from the left-wing on the fastbreak, hitting only his second 3 of the night. His third would come quickly after as he shoots a catch and shoot 3 from the top, swishing it once again. Bryant now has 38 points with 7:39 left in the quarter, the Raptors remain in the lead 73-61.

A couple of minutes would go by before Bryant had yet another scoring flourish, the first of which coming from beyond the arc once again. Coming up in early offence Kobe receives the ball and strolls his way to the left-wing. Jalen Rose anticipates the drive and drops back as Bryant takes a little stutter step before pulling up without warning and drops the shot with 100% accuracy, nothing but net. The next possession down Bryant hits yet another jump shot, from inside the arc this time. Collecting the ball on the right-wing, Peterson has his hand on Bryant’s hip as the Raptors are desperate to slow him down. Bryant takes 2 dribbles to the baseline before stopping and faking twice, Peterson is all over him. Undistracted Kobe puts up a shot from 18 feet, dropping it through like a penny in a well and earning a shot at the line for his troubles. Stepping to the charity strike, Bryant has now hit 10 straight field goals as he finishes the traditional 3 point play. He now has 44 of LAs 66 as the deficit has been cut to 9, 77-66.

About a minute of game time would go by before Bryant scored again. Smush Parker delivers a bounce pass to number 8 as he makes his way to the right-wing. Bryant jab steps to the right before firing away, catching Joey Graham off guard. The ball drops through once again as the crowd begin to get involved, the Lakers were on there way back, now only down by 5, 78-73. Bryant has 47.

The clock would tick down below 3 minutes before Bryant scored again, attacking the rim this time. Coming to the left-wing in the early offence once again, this time keeping his dribble alive and attacking Graham as he heads towards the baseline. Unable to recover, Graham lets him go and Bryant finishes with the reverse at the rim, he now has 49. Game score now sits at 85-81 with 2:30 left in the 3rd.

The Lakers had well and truly started a run as other players began to score, the teams had drawn level by the 1:30 mark, 85-85. Bryant would then score emphatically to give LA their first lead since 2-0. Mike James has the ball on the perimeter as the Raptors are on offence. He tries to get it to Jose Calderon at the right-wing, but the ball is intercepted by non-other than Kobe Bryant. Running the loose ball down, Bryant sees off the challenge as Calderon attempts to regain possession. He gets to the Raptors 3 point line as he secures the basketball, all alone he gathers the ball and marches into the paint. Slamming the ball down hard with two hands and putting a dent on the rim as the arena rises to its feet. Everything Kobe had done tonight had looked effortless, a level above the competition. Stu Lantz remarks “Well that’s 51 for number 8” as LA take an 87-85 lead.

(Image/Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bryant will get one more bucket before the start of the 4th as Torontos defence fail to track the Lakers leading scorer once again. Bryant receives the ball from George as the Lakers inbound in the halfcourt. Bryant gives the ball back to the inbounder at the left-wing as Mihm sets a pick for Bryant. George finds Odom in the left corner as Bryant’s man gets caught on the screen, leaving him open. Odom quickly delivers the rock inside as Bryant goes up and dunks it home. A perfectly executed inbounds play sees LA take a 6 point lead, 91-85. A score that would stand as the 3rd ends.

As a team, the Lakers had 42 points in the 3rd quarter, shooting 14/21. On his own Bryant had 27 of those points on 11/15 from the field, a remarkable achievement for just 12 minutes of playing time.

Number 8’s first 2 points of the 4th would come at the line. This was closely followed by a 13-foot jump shot. The ball comes to Bryant as he stands in the right high post. He pivots to face Peterson as he plans his attack. Jab stepping to the right twice before taking one dribble in the same direction. Bryant pulls up and swishes it home before Peterson can react. He is now 5 away from his then career-high(62) with 57 as he extends the Lakers young lead to 7, 95-88.

Another mid-range jumper would follow soon after as Bryant has the ball at the top of the 3 point line, Guarded by Rose. Brown comes to set Kobe a screen, bringing the double. Bryant sees this before it develops and splits the Raptors defence as he heads towards the paint. He pulls up at the free throw line as Bosh mistakenly puts a hand on his back, fouling the shooter. Bryant hits the shot as he heads to the line for a chance at converting yet another 3 point play, unfortunately missing the charity shot. He now has 59 as the Purple and Gold lead 97-88.

A quiet couple of minutes would then follow for the Lakers on offence as the Raptors cut the lead back to 4, 97-93. This would change as the Raptors had finally decided to start throwing an extra body at Bryant on drives. Something he took advantage of to find an open Odom for 3. He connects as the Lakers inch beyond a century. The very next trip down the floor Bryant would score once again. He receives the ball in the right corner in early offence. Panic comes over Bonner as he tries to guard Mamba, jumping out to guard the catch and shoot. Bryant sees this and immediately drives baseline and into the paint. With Bonner beaten, Bryant goes around the stagnant Bosh before finishing the open shot from close range. He now has 61 Ponts as the Lakers go up 102-93, 6:30 left.

Bryant will then go to the line as he is fouled on a 3 point attempt. Rose holding onto Kobe out of fear, Bryant smartly tries to put the shot up and the officials blow the whistle. As Bryant steps to the line commentary remarks “Ladies and Gentlemen you are about to see a career-high for Kobe Bryant”. Swishing the first one he ties his career-high, 62 for number 8. The second rattles around the rim before dropping through, giving Bryant a new career-high, 63. The third and final free throw would see the Staples Center rise to its feet as they celebrate their hero. Bryant swishes it home, he now has 64 with 6 minutes left, Lakers lead 105-94.

It would only take Kobe half a minute to score again. Receiving the ball on the right-wing, with Rose stuck to his right hip like glue. Bryant takes a dribble with his left to give himself some breathing room. He then takes another dribble and a step to his left before firing from 26 feet with a hand in his face. Holding the swan neck as it hits the bottom of the net. He now has 67 points, overtaking Wilt Chamberlain(66) to become 2nd for most points in a single game in Laker history. Elgin Baylor(71) sits precariously in 1st with 5:30 left in the game.

The very next possession Bryant closes the gap even further. He gets the ball at the right-wing once again. Brown comes and sets the screen, allowing Bryant to take a single dribble to his left and shake his man once again. Pulling up from almost the exact same spot as his last make, anticipation fills the crowd as the ball floats through the air. It swishes home as the building explodes once again. Bryant now has 70 points, surpassing the career-high of his childhood idol Michael Jordan(69) and putting him 1 point behind Baylor. Lakers lead 111-96 with 4:40 left.

As LA bring the ball up the floor they are desperate to feed Kobe. He flashes open at the left-wing as Odom delivers it. Peterson is tight to Bryant, not allowing another 3. Bryant drives baseline again, taking 2 dribbles into the mid-range before pump faking. Covered by Peterson, Bryant is in full control as he jumps and fades. Creating enough space to get the shot off. It drops as the building erupts with energy once more. Commentary exclaims “Kobes got the Laker record!”

Now with 72 points and the game in the bag, with 4 minutes left Bryant was not finished. Odom gives him the ball at the left-wing again. This time Bryant goes right, driving into the paint. Peterson is beat as Bonner is the last line of defence. Kobe puts his left shoulder into the chest of Bonner, using it as a bounce pad. Bryant fades back and drops in the floater from 5 feet. He now has 74 as he continues to build the legend.

Bryant would then begin a parade to the line, being fouled once again by Bosh on the drive. He swishes the first to give himself 75. Replicating the shot perfectly, Bryant swishes the second and gives himself 76 points with 2:30 left in the game. Now only 2 points away from 2nd all-time in single-game scoring, held by Chamberlain.

The parade continues as Bryant is fouled from 3 point land. Commentary reminds us that “he’s gonna go to the line and shoot 3 free throws to get to 79. Which would be the second greatest performance in NBA history.” On the first, it bounces it off the back iron and in, 77. The next will tie Chamberlain’s record. Bouncing around the rim the second drops, 78. The third hit the back iron again before dropping through, 79. “Ladies and Gentlemen you have witnessed the second greatest scoring performance in NBA history! 79 points by Kobe Bryant tonight against the Toronto Raptors.”

Bryant would go to the line one final time on the 22nd of January 2006, to shoot 2 free throws with 43 seconds left in the game. A chance for 81! As cool as he shoots a free throw at shootaround, Bryant swishes the first home to total 80 points! The routine stays the same, high fives with the team, then back on the line. Bryant receives the ball, spins it to the floor and catches it again, followed by 2 bounces. His eyes rise up and lock onto the rim as he takes a deep breath. His arms rise for the shooting motion and he lets it go with the flick of his right wrist. It swishes home as the first did. “An 81 point game, 55 in the second half!”.

(Image/Noah Graham/Getty Images)

With 4.2 seconds left in the game, Pape Sow throws the ball away on a bad pass. Allowing Bryant to leave the game to the standing ovation he so truly deserves. Finishing the game with 81 points on 28/46 from the field, 7/13 from 3 point land and 18/20 from the free throw line. The greatest scoring performance ever by a Los Angeles Laker and the second greatest scoring performance in NBA history! Truly one of his greatest games wearing number 8!

(Image/Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

After leaving High School at 18 and originally being drafted with the number 13 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, the rights to Bryant were immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. In his 20 years wearing the Purple and Gold Bryant earned an All-Rookie Team selection, 2 NBA scoring titles, 18 NBA All-Star Selections, 4 NBA All-Star MVPs, 3 NBA All-Defensive Second Team selections, 9 NBA All-Defensive First Team selections, 2 All-NBA Third Team selections, 2 All-NBA Second Team selections, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, an NBA MVP, 5 NBA Championships, 2 NBA Finals MVPs, and later an induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Following Bryant’s death, on 26th of January 2020, there was an outpouring of love not only in Los Angeles but across the world. Fans of the game worldwide expressed their condolences and shared stories of their own special moments as they remembered Kobe. A true legend that did not only transcend basketball but life itself as young fans today still learn of the legend of Kobe Bean Bryant.

In 2017 the franchise made it so no other Laker would wear number 8 or number 24 again. Hanging his jerseys in the rafters of the Staples Center. Becoming the 10th player to have his number retired by the Los Angeles Lakers and the only player to have two numbers retired by the same organisation. All these achievements and the many memories he has left us with more than cement his place at the top of this list of true Laker greats!


Check out Lakers UK’s podcast The Lake Lake Show on all podcast platforms. Including Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

Lakers UK are proud affiliate partners of Fanatics UK and the NBA Store Europe. We do possess unique promotional codes for both websites that can offer our readers and followers 10% off site-wide through the following weblinks.

Fanatics UK: http://tinyurl.com/y4vjv32b and enter the promotional code LAKERSUK10 at checkout to receive 10% off. This is not limited to just NBA apparel, but the discount can be used on MLB, NFL, NHL, Football/Soccer gear also!

NBA Store Europe: http://tinyurl.com/y585vud9 and enter the promotional code LAKERSUK10 at checkout. This is not limited to Lakers gear, the discount is available site-wide on any product you wish to purchase!