With Kobe Bryant turning 35 tomorrow, this edition of Throwback Thursday will focus on the Mamba at a younger age.
Throughout his career, Kobe has established himself as one of the premier clutch shooters in the history of the NBA. There are very few people who are more than willing to take and make the big shots when time is running down on the clock.
Everyone remembers the 2000 playoffs for the Kobe to Shaq lob in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals that brought the Staples Center’s roof down. But it was a round earlier, against an upstart Phoenix Suns team, that young Kobe Bryant began to establish himself as a stone cold killer with the game on the line.
First and foremost, aren’t we all glad that Jason Kidd got rid of that awful blonde hair? Ok, now back to Kobe. The degree of difficulty on this shot is an absolute 10.
This version of Jason Kidd was one of the best defenders at the guard position the NBA has ever seen. He was right in Kobe’s face as Kobe elevated and had help come in late from Rodney Rogers which forced Kobe to double-pump the jumper.
This shot gave the Lakers a 2-0 series lead as they would eventually win the series 4-1 on their way to the first championship of the Kobe-Shaq era and also marked Kobe’s first game-winning jumper of his career.
To date, Kobe has 27 game-winning shots in his Lakers career. That doesn’t even include game-winning free throws, game tying shots, shots that gave the Lakers the lead for good with more than 24 seconds on the clock or clutch shots under 24 seconds in games that the Lakers lost.
As the years went on, Kobe would go on to compile a highlight reel of amazing game-winners, most notable among those being the legendary shot against the Suns in Game 4 of the playoffs in 2006 and the insane shot over Dwyane Wade in 2009. But on this day, we remember the first in a long line of Kobe Bryant game-winners.
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