While Kobe Bryant created countless highlights during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, one of his most-referenced moments came with the five-time champion on the bench. Not only was Bryant not on the court, he wasn’t suited up to play.
With the Lakers facing the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 26, 2014, Bryant was held out because of soreness for a third consecutive game. With the Mavericks minutes away from a win, one of their fans began to heckle Bryant.
Television cameras did not catch what was said, but did capture Bryant counting to five with his right hand and nodding his head while wearing a wry smile. The exchange became a GIF that’s been used across social media in the years since.
During an interview with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg on “Get Up!,” Bryant provided an explanation on referencing his championships:
“People want to know about criticism, for example. How do you deal with that? People try to downplay your career in some shape, form or fashion. I just hold up five, because the most important thing that we do, the goal is to win championships. This is what we’re here for.”
Bryant has regularly pointed to NBA titles as being the basis for arguments over a player’s standing. With that, he’s continued to dismiss any debates over where he and LeBron James rank among the league’s greats, or how either compares to Michael Jordan.
In addition to Bryant’s famous GIF, Dallas was also the scene where Bryant responded to criticism from Mavs owner Mark Cuban with an ‘Amnesty THAT’ tweet after finishing with 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a 103-99 Lakers victory.