The 2005-06 NBA season saw Kobe Bryant break out as a true superstar and become one of the best players in all of basketball. Despite a lackluster Los Angeles Lakers roster, Bryant willed his team to the No. 7 seed at 45-37, averaging an absurd 35.4 points per game.
This season included two of the greatest individual performances of all time from Bryant. The first was scoring 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks, which was followed by the iconic 81-point game versus the Toronto Raptors.
All of this led to a difficult first round matchup against MVP Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns. Bryant gave the Suns everything he could, but it resulted in a 4-3 loss, sending L.A. home in the first round.
The Dallas Mavericks, who were the four-seed despite winning 60 games, found themselves in the NBA Finals after upsetting the San Antonio Spurs in the second round. They would face Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat.
There, the Heat would storm back from a 2-0 series deficit to take a championship away from Dirk Nowitzki. Dwyane Wade would win his first and O’Neal would take his fourth, moving him one ahead of Bryant.
NBA regular season statistics
NBA regular season schedule and results
NBA playoffs statistics
NBA playoffs schedule and results