Kobe Bryant NBA Career
Early Career (1996-99)
Kobe Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. At the age of 17, he was the first guard to be drafted directly out of high school. He was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for center Vlade Divac because Lakers general manager Jerry West liked Bryant's athleticism. Additionally, dumping Divac's' salary allowed for the Lakers to sign free agent center Shaquille O'Neal later that summer.
For the first two seasons of his career, Bryant was primarily a reserve as he adjusted to the NBA game. During his first three seasons, the Lakers had little playoff success, getting swept to end both the 1998 and 1999 playoffs. Kobe Bryant was named to the 1998 All-Star team in his second season in the league. Just 19, he was the youngest player in the history of the league to make an NBA All-Star team.
Dynasty Years (1999-04)
The arrival of Phil Jackson before the '99-00 season marked the next period in Bryant's career, during which he made the leap from star to superstar. His offensive game took off under his new coach as he averaged 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He was named to the All-Star team for the second time in his career in 2000, beginning a run of 10 straight All-Star appearances. During the 2000 postseason, he averaged 21.1 points per game and combined with Shaquille O'Neal to lead the Lakers to the NBA title.
In 2000-01, Kobe Bryant improved in every statistical category, averaging 28.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. His offensive improvement helped propel the Lakers to their second consecutive NBA title. Although his scoring average dipped to 25.2 points per game the next season, Kobe Bryant was named first-team All-NBA for the first time in 2001-02. That same year he also won his first All-Star Game MVP, and the Lakers won their third straight NBA title.
In the summer of 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by an employee of an Eagle, CO hotel. Bryant was staying at the hotel to rehabilitate his knee after having surgery. After the allegations became public, Bryant admitted to having an adulterous consensual affair with the women, but denied assaulting her. The allegations hurt Bryant's public image and he lost multiple sponsors. His primary sponsor, Nike, did keep him on their endorsement roster, but did not market him throughout the 2003-04 seasons. Bryant flew back and forth between his Lakers and court obligations multiple times that season. In September of 2004, the assault case was dropped, after the accuser declined to testify in court.
The Lakers would again make it to the NBA Finals two years later in 2004, but were unexpectedly beaten in five games by the Detroit Pistons, led by Finals MVP Chauncey Billups. After the 2004 NBA Finals loss, both Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal left the Lakers. Jackson wanted to take some time off from coaching and, after requesting a trade, O'Neal was sent to the Miami Heat. Kobe Bryant, a free agent at the time, negotiated with other teams, but ended up re-signing with the Lakers.
The Post-Shaq Years (2004-07)
After the departure of Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant had to adjust to being the leader of the Lakers and averaged 27.6 points per game. Bryant led the Lakers offense as he scored over 40 points on ten different occasions during the 2004-2005 season. His numbers skyrocketed the next year as he averaged a career-best 35.4 points per game, along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Though his individual statistics improved -- leading to a pair of scoring titles -- his team struggled. His most memorable game during this period came on January 22, 2006, when he scored 81 points in a win against the Toronto Raptors. Bryant made 28 of his 46 field goal attempts, and scored 55 of his 81 points in the second half. That total stands second to Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game as the most points ever scored in an NBA game.
Before the 2006-07 season, Kobe Bryant changed his jersey number from 8 to 24, the number he wore as a freshman in high school. Bryant has given multiple reasons for the number change over the past two seasons, though most are still just speculation. After the number change, Bryant again led the league in scoring with an average of 31.6 points and was named an NBA All-Star.
Return to the Finals (2007-2010)
In the summer of 2007, Bryant demanded a trade from the Lakers, controversially denigrating his GM and some of his teammates through the media. Bryant backed off on his trade request and eventually made it to training camp on time for the season opener. He was booed during the Lakers season opener at home against the Rockets, but eventually reconciled with everyone involved, remained a Laker, and led them to the 2008 NBA Finals where they lost to the Boston Celtics.
Kobe Bryant averaged 26.8 points per game during the 2008-09 regular season, leading the Lakers to their second straight Finals appearance. Bryant ended up leading the Lakers to a 4-1 series win over the Orlando Magic, earning MVP honors in the process. He joined Michael Jordan as the only players to average 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for a title-winning team, and earned Finals MVP honors for the first time in six trips to the Finals.
In 2009-10, Bryant again led the Lakers to the top of the Western Conference, earning another All-Star start. On Dec. 11, 2009, Bryant suffered a fractured right index finger, but chose to keep playing, rather than miss time due to surgery. On Feb. 1, 2010, Bryant passed Jerry West to become the Lakers all-time leading scorer, less than two weeks after he'd become the youngest player to reach the 25,000-point mark. Bryant averaged 29.4 PPG in the first three rounds of the 2010 playoffs to lead the Lakers to their third consecutive Finals appearance, once again facing the Boston Celtics. The Lakers won a thrilling series in seven games, with Bryant winning his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award and earing his fifth championship ring.
Chasing a sixth ring (2010-Present)
Bryant continued to move up the NBA's all-time scoring list in 2010-11, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 26,000 and 27,000 points. He finished the season ranked sixth in career points, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal, all but one of whom also played for the Lakers at some point. Bryant was selected to his 13th consecutive All-Star game, where he led all scorers with 37 points to earn his fourth All-Star MVP award. However, Bryant's season took a negative turn late, when he was fined $100,000 by the NBA for using a derogatory gay slur against referee Bennie Adams during a game against the Spurs. Bryant apologized for his use of the word while also appealing the fine. His 2010-11 season came to an end in the second round of the playoffs, when the Lakers were swept by the eventual champion Mavericks.
Phil Jackson retired following the 2010-11 season, forcing Bryant to adjust to new coach Mike Brown. The adjustment period was made more difficult by the extended NBA lockout, which delayed the start of the season until Christmas. The Lakers' season also was thrown into turmoil when a potential trade for Chris Paul fell apart, and the team traded Lamar Odom to the Mavericks. Bryant, who underwent an experimental procedure on his knee in the offseason, battled Kevin Durant for the scoring lead for much of the season. He earned his 14th All-Star appearance, and passed Michael Jordan as the career leader in points in the All-Star Game. Bryant finished the season second in the league in scoring at 27.9 points per game, leading the Lakers to the Pacific Division title in the process. After a tough seven-game series against the Nuggets in the first round, the Lakers fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the second round.
Kobe Bryant biography. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http://espn.go.com/nba/player/bio/_/id/110/kobe-bryant
1. What year was Kobe Bryant drafted?
2. How old was he?
1. Why did Kobe Bryant change his number to 24?
2. When did Phil Jackson retire?
1. It was his high school number in his freshman year.
2. 2010-11 season.