The NBA All-Star break is upon us and Kobe Bryant will be making his 15th All-Star game appearance. In these 15 appearances, he has created many memorable moments and gained many accomplishments. As a young kid in 1997, Kobe Bryant created his first memorable All-Star moment by winning the dunk contest. From there, he went on to dominate the All-Star game year after year. He has won four All-Star game MVPs which is tied with only Bob Pettit for the most in NBA history. In light of All-Star weekend being under way, here is a breakdown of the top 5 All-Star Game performances by Kobe Bryant.
5. All-Star Game 2003
This game was widely known as one more lasting moment for the great Michael Jordan. After coming back to play for the Washington Wizards for a few years, Jordan announced that he would be retiring at the end of 2003 so this would be his final All-Star game appearance. The night belonged to MJ as he hit big shot after big shot towards the end of the fourth quarter, but there was only one problem, Kobe Bryant was playing for the opposing team.
As the East seemed to be running away with the game at the end of regulation, Kobe began to catch fire and pull the West all of the way back into the game to tie it. With the game tied and less than 24 seconds left, Jordan had a chance to win the game but missed the game winning shot. This forced the game into overtime where Jordan and Kobe would continue to battle.
With 4.8 seconds left, Jordan threw in a high-arching jumper from the right baseline over Shawn Marion’s long stretched out arm. This gave the East a 138 to 136 lead and it seemed like an extremely special night for Michael Jordan was about to go down in the history books. The tenacious Kobe Bryant did not care much for that as he caught an inbound pass and attempted a game winning three point shot from the corner, but was fouled by Jermaine O’Neal. Kobe made two of his three free throws, which completely ruined Jordan’s game winning moment.
The game went to double over time where the West pulled away and became victorious. Finishing the game with 22 points, Kobe showed the world how relentless he could be. This game was all about MJ and the special moments were in the works, but Kobe refused to let it happen. Perhaps, this was one of the reasons why Kobe believes that Jordan knows he’s a bad mother[expletive].
4. All-Star Game 2009
This All-Star game came at a time when Kobe and the Lakers were enjoying much success. The Lakers seemed very poised to return to the NBA Finals and Kobe Bryant was showing the league that he was arguably the best player in the world. With Shaq being traded to the Phoenix Suns, this would be the first time that the historic duo would be playing for the same team since their ugly break up in 2004.
With the East taking an early 20-10 lead, coach Phil Jackson decided to send Shaq to the court. O’Neal and Bryant would go on to show everyone exactly why they were able to three peat while being on the same team. With these two playing together for the first time in over 5 years, the West embarked on a 19-0 run to take the lead. The West would go on to completely dominate the game and win 146 to 119. Kobe finished the game with 27 points and became Co-MVPs with Shaquille O’Neal.
3. All-Star Game 2007
The LeBron vs. Kobe argument began to heat up around the time of this All-Star game and neither player would disappoint heading into this one. LeBron James led the Eastern Conference with 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, but the West proved to be too strong. Led by Kobe Bryant, the West would set All-Star records with 69 field goals and 52 assists as they emphatically defeated the East 153 to 132.
Kobe was not to be outdone by LeBron as he ended the night with 31 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals. He earned his second All-Star game MVP and passed Magic Johnson for 10th place on the all-time All-Star scoring list.
2. All-Star Game 2002
Kobe Bryant was returning to his hometown of Philadelphia, but the fans were there to see 76er superstar, Allen Iverson. Kobe already had two championships under his belt at this time and all of his individual rivals like Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Michael Jordan, and Allen Iverson were all on the opposing team. Many fans at the time believed that Kobe was only a champion because he was playing along side of Shaq so Kobe took this opportunity to show the NBA what he can do individually.
With the stage set perfectly for Allen Iverson, he ended the night with a poor 2 for 9, scoring only 5 points. As Kobe’s hometown booed mercilessly, Kobe scored 31 points, gained 5 rebounds, and 5 steals. This was the first time since Michael Jordan in 1993 that a played scored at least 30 points in an All-Star game.
“At the end of this game, one of these guys are going to walk off of this floor and say, ‘Today, I am the greatest player in the entire world.’” – Bill Walton at the start of the game.
1. All-Star Game 2011
In this game, Kobe showed the world that he is still a force to be reckoned with even though there is a new generation of young talent taking over the NBA. The game took place in Los Angeles and Kobe Bryant did not disappoint the hometown Laker fans. His rival, LeBron James played very impressively and earned a triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, but this was not enough to defeat Kobe Bryant and the Western Conference.
Kobe found the fountain of youth and ended the night with an amazing 37 points, 14 rebounds and 3 steals. During this game, he also posterized LeBron as he refused to let James do his usual chase down block on a fast break by throwing it down for the slam dunk. This caused LeBron to look around for a ball he thought he blocked, but he instead received a tap on the backside from Kobe was sarcastically letting him know that he put up a good effort. After the game, Kobe stated that being around so many young players energized him and enabled him to play the way that he did.
In his 15th All-Star game appearance tomorrow, Kobe has the chance to create even more memorable moments. If all of these young guys energize him again, the most All-Star game MVPs in the history of the NBA will be added to his legacy.