Throughout his historic 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant had many illustrious accomplishments along the way. Each game not only provided a chance for Bryant to explode, but also to further his legendary status as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history.
The mid-years of the 2000 decade was an unfortunate part of Bryant’s career with the Lakers, moving on from the era with Shaquille O’Neal but not yet partnered with Pau Gasol towards his second championship run. It was during this time where Bryant had to consistently carry the entire load by himself, facing double-teams just about every game.
Many teams would go back-and-forth on a gameplan towards Bryant and the Lakers, debating between letting Bryant try to single-handedly win or taking the ball out of his hands and letting his teammates make plays.
However, certain games each season would turn into a demonstration on Hall-of-Fame scoring, including the Dec. 23, 2007, showdown against the New York Knicks.
Wherever the Lakers would travel, they’d be met by a large contingent of fans. Many of whom were hopeful to see a memorable performance from Bryant. Madison Square Garden was treated to quite the game on this day in 2007.
Bryant always emphasized how the famed arena was his favorite to play in, shining with celebrities like Spike Lee in attendance. He would eventually put up one of the best performances of his career there, one time dropping 61 points and leaving the crowd in awe.
The Lakers got off to a hot start against the Knicks, opening up a 55-37 half-time lead. However, a slip up in the second half set the stage for Bryant to once again etch his name in the history books.
A 3-pointer in the early portion of the third quarter officially cemented Bryant as the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points. He beat out former record-holder Wilt Chamberlain by 12 days, achieving the feat at the age of 29 years and 122 days.
At the time, Bryant solidified himself as the third player in the history of the NBA to reach the milestone before turning 30 years old, joining Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
The Lakers at one time extended their lead to 25 points during the third quarter, but the home crowd uplifted the Knicks towards the comeback. A strong finish to the third quarter, including outscoring the Lakers by nine points in the final quarter, pulled the game to within single digits.
Head coach Phil Jackson thought it would be safe to rest Bryant for the night after the historic accomplishment, but needed him later in the night to close out the victory. Bryant went on for 39 points on 14-for-28 shooting, along with 11 rebounds, eight assists and two steals.
The Lakers finished with the 95-90 win over the Knicks, with the fans at Madison Square Garden at one point providing MVP chants for Bryant.
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