With 2.1 seconds in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo inbounds the ball to Anthony Davis as Davis rises over the 7’3 wingspan of Nikola Jokic for a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The ball swishes through the net inside the NBA Disney World Bubble as Davis yells “Kobe” in tribute to his childhood hero and emulating those game-winners he watched as a kid.
This shot was already over a year ago and was one of the all-time great Lakers game-winners. Now, we see where it ranks amongst this list of the top 10 in franchise history.
For the purposes of this list, a game-winner will be a shot that put the team up for good and context will factor in as well.
10. Kobe and the Greatest Farewell in History
April 13, 2016 will forever be known as Mamba Day because Kobe Bryant orchestrated the greatest final game in the history of sports. Kobe had been through injury after injury but saved it all for his last game as he balled out with 60 points, scoring over 50 points for the first time in more than seven years.
This game is littered with historically memorable moments, but none stand out more than Kobe crossing over a defender and rising up for the clutch mid-range bucket with 31.6 seconds left to give the Lakers the lead after being down by 10 points only two minutes earlier. Kobe sent the Staples Center fans into a euphoric pandemonium before the iconic superstar signed off to the crowd: Mamba Out.
Only Kobe could turn a regular-season game with no meaning into a memory that will last forever.
9. Derek Fisher Shows Off His Clutch Shooting in the 2009 NBA Finals
Derek Fisher was known for hitting big shots in the playoffs, but what may be even more impressive is how long he did it for. In the second half of Kobe’s career, Fisher was the only remaining member from the three-peat era with Shaquille O’Neal that was still riding with the Black Mamba.
Not only did D-Fish send the game into overtime with 4.8 seconds left, but he hit the game-winner at the top of the key before giving a smile that said it all to beat the Orlando Magic in a series that was closer than a lot of people remember.
Derek Fisher came up big against Orlando 🔥
Lakers vs. Magic, 2009 NBA Finals Game 4 – 6pm ET on NBA TV! pic.twitter.com/0huf8nFKlh
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 11, 2020
8. Kobe breaks Raptors’ hearts, again
This is a quintessential Kobe game and Exhibit A if you want to know how good he was right before infamously tearing his Achilles. In fact, Lakers reporter Mike Trudell often refers to it as one of his favorite Kobe games
On March 8, 2013, Kobe hit a game-winning dunk with 10.4 seconds left, dribbling around the whole Toronto Raptors team. But it was the three consecutive increasingly difficult and clutch 3-pointers he hit to bring the game into overtime with under a minute remaining that added the dramatic flair to this one. Kobe always seemed to be on when going up against the Raptors.
Still the Most Amazing thing I’ve ever watched Kobe Bryant do in my life.
March 8th, 2013 vs the Raptors.
2 Minutes left, down by 5.
Mamba with back to back to back Threes and a Dunk to seal it 🐍🐐 pic.twitter.com/K10UA2bOTM
— 𝜜¹𝙃𝒐𝒐𝒑𝒛 (@A1Hoopz) April 20, 2021
7. The Logo Steals the Ball
The greatest rivalry in sports history is between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics, so there had to be multiple moments from it on this list. The first iteration of this rivalry was led by Jerry West for the Lakers and Bill Russell for the Celtics.
West stole the ball on an inbound pass meant for Bob Cousy, before dribbling it up the court for the buzzer-beating layup to lead the Lakers to victory in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. They called him, “Mr. Clutch,” and put his silhouette on the NBA logo for a reason.
4⃣4️⃣ days from #KiaTipOff19…
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) September 8, 2019
One other honorable mention that didn’t make this list but was a great moment against the Celtics was Rajon Rondo’s buzzer-beater in Boston in 2019.
6. “Kobe passed me the ball!”
The epic Lakers and Celtics rivalry strikes again on this list in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. This was Kobe and the Lakers’ best shot at revenge from the 2008 Finals loss, but the wiser No. 24 version of the Black Mamba passed the ball to an open Ron Artest for the game-winning 3-pointer.
(2010) Ron Artest. NBA Finals Game 7. pic.twitter.com/hJaaUDYIeD
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) April 7, 2018
This led to a legendary moment in Lakers history as Ron Artest yelled postgame: “Kobe passed me the ball!”
5. Big Shot Bob Downs the Kings
The Lakers-Kings rivalry in the early 2000s during the Shaq-Kobe dynasty produced some incredible moments, but Big Shot Bob AKA Robert Horry himself hit a buzzer-beating game-winner against the Kings to win game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals.
He seems to always be in the right place at the right time to the point where NBA.com even ranks their game winners on an “Horry scale.
Big Shot Bob 🔥
18 years ago, Robert Horry hit the game winner to seal a comeback win against the Kings. pic.twitter.com/T3IQHWbgXJ
— ESPN (@espn) May 26, 2020
4. Fisher 0.4
This is one of the greatest shots of all time and forever cemented Fisher as more than just a role player amongst the dynasty ruled by Shaq and Kobe. Tim Duncan had just hidden an absurd one-hand mid-range bank shot floater and it looked like the San Antonio Spurs would walk away with the win until Fisher pulled off the quickest turnaround of all time draining a high-arcing shot.
No one will ever know how he got that off so quickly as this shot was key in the Lakers advancing to the 2004 Finals.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 13, 2020
3. Kobe beats Suns in playoffs
Facing a tough Phoenix Suns team led by Steve Nash in the 2006 playoffs, Bryant knew he would have to be at his best to beat them and he was in Game 4.
Not only did Kobe drain a one-handed floater to put the game into overtime with less than a second left in regulation, but he dribbled to his right off an inbound and rose up for a mid-range jumper to win the game at the buzzer for the Lakers. It has become one of the most recognizable plays in Kobe’s career and in NBA playoff history for both the shot and the celebration of Kobe pulling his shirt to the side and yelling in a show of raw emotion.
"It was the most fun shot I've ever hit, just because it's us, enjoying this as a unit."
15 years ago today, Kobe forced OT & hit the game-winner in OT vs Steve Nash & the Phoenix Suns! pic.twitter.com/y8HVdenRTx
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 1, 2021
2. Magic Johnson’s Junior Skyhook
Magic Johnson is the only person in the debat of “greatest Laker of all time” with Kobe Bryant for a reason. This is the most recognizable moment in the Lakers-Celtics rivalry as Magic mimicked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s signature skyhook with his own “junior” version of the shot to win Game 4 with only two seconds to go as he put the Lakers up 3-1 on their way to yet another championship for the Showtime era in 1987.
On this day in 1987, Magic broke out the iconic baby skyhook 🏆pic.twitter.com/XCVb6Nar8V
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) June 9, 2019
1. Anthony Davis yells, “KOBE!” at the buzzer
This shot meant everything. It’s the defining moment from the Lakers 2020 championship run amidst the death of beloved iconic franchise superstar Kobe Bryant, a global pandemic that forced the players to quarantine in the infamous “NBA Disney Bubble,” and a social justice movement in which NBA players stepped up to become leaders.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 20, 2021
The Lakers will always be known for big-time players making big-time plays, but with this season’s addition of Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, they may have to adjust this list sooner rather than later on their quest to become the 2022 NBA champions.
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