After two first round exits against the Phoenix Suns, Kobe Bryant’s frustration grew as the organization was seemingly wasting the prime years of his career. During the off-season, Bryant demanded a trade, but Dr. Jerry Buss was able to persuade him to stay in Los Angeles. With the whole city on edge, the Lakers came together and exceeded expectations led by Kobe Bryant. The Lakers finished first in the Western Conference with a 57-25 record as Bryant captured his first Most Valuable Player award. Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. In the playoffs, Kobe led the Lakers to their first Finals appearance since 2002, but was unable to win his fourth championship and first without Shaquille O’Neal.
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