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Monday, June 19, 2017

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Eyes On NBA: The 8 Greatest Kobe Bryant Playoff Performances

By @TrueGodImmortal

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players ever. If you watch the game of basketball and pay attention to what he's done in his career, then you know very well that Kobe is easily a top 10 all time player, possibly top 5 depending on your criteria (social media would say otherwise, but we've established they know nothing). However, what about his performances in the NBA playoffs? For all of his greatness, does Kobe have great performances in the playoffs? Of course he does. Today, we look at the 8 greatest Kobe performances. Let's get into it.

*2002 NBA Finals 
(Game 3 vs New Jersey Nets)

-There are some great Kobe performances in the playoffs alongside Shaq and this is probably one of my favorites. Kobe stepped up in the Finals when his number was called upon, shooting an efficient 14 for 23 from the field, finishing with 36 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Lakers would end up sweeping the Nets and of course Kobe was a huge part of that. Don't ever believe that Shaq carried Kobe. Ever.

*2001 NBA Western Conference Finals 
(Game 3 vs San Antonio Spurs)

-With the Lakers up 2-0, they came in on a mission to take out the Spurs and put the finishing touches on their domination of the Western Conference. It should come as no surprise that the Lakers had a great performance from Shaq, who put up 35 points and 17 rebounds, but Kobe stepped up with a near triple double, shooting 14 for 27 from the field and finishing with 36 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. Kobe was growing into his own and the 2001 playoffs were the beginning of his excellence in the playoffs.

*2006 NBA First Round 
(Game 6 vs Phoenix Suns)

-The Lakers would end up blowing a 3-1 series lead against the much better Suns team, but there's nothing bad about Kobe's performance in this game. With an efficient 20 for 35 from the field, 5 for 8 from three point range, and a 50 point finish alongside 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals, one could only wonder what Kobe could have done if he had more help than just Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown, and Smush Parker. There was nothing more that Kobe could do, and this performance was definitely one of his best, even in a loss.

*2001 NBA Western Conference Finals 
(Game 1 vs San Antonio Spurs)

-Kobe was really coming into his own as a player and this was the game that really showed me he was the next one up. With an efficient 19 for 35 shooting on the night, Kobe finished with 45 points on the night alongside 10 rebounds for one of his best performances in the playoffs for sure. The Spurs would end up being swept in this series and Kobe was a huge reason for that.

*2008 NBA Finals 
(Game 3 vs Boston Celtics)

-While the 2008 Finals didn't go the way Kobe and the Lakers might have wanted it to, Kobe still put in one of his best playoff performances, and his best game during this Finals. With a very efficient 12 for 20 from the field, he finished with 36 points alongside 7 rebounds. Though the Lakers wouldn't end up winning the title this year, Kobe has nothing to be ashamed of in this performance. He was vital for the Lakers.

*2001 NBA Western Conference Semifinals 
(Game 4 vs Sacramento Kings)

-The Kings were really on the cusp of greatness, but could never get beyond the Lakers in the playoffs. In 2001, the Lakers were up 3-0 and looked to close the Kings out in the 2nd round. When the Lakers came in, they were set to do work, and while Shaq was solid with a 25 points and 10 rebounds night, but Kobe was amazing with 48 points and 16 rebounds, which helped the Lakers close out the Kings for the sweep in a clutch 119-113 victory.

*2008 NBA Western Conference First Round
(Game 2 vs Denver Nuggets)

-For me, in the Western Conference, I was waiting for the Kobe vs Melo battle to turn into a great rivalry. It never really did, but I was still interested whenever their two respective teams went at it. In this case, we witnessed Kobe show that his era was still in full effect, and that he could be extremely efficient when need be. He finished the game with 49 points, knocking down 5 three pointers on the way to a very solid 18 for 27 shooting night and pulling down 10 rebounds. Kobe showed up and did what he does best.

*2009 NBA Finals 
(Game 1 vs Orlando Magic)

-This might be the greatest performance of his in the playoffs. It might be. Dominating the Orlando Magic through the game, the Lakers set the tone for their gentlemen's sweep that took place, as Kobe set the stage for his first Finals MVP victory. Kobe would finish game 1 with a near triple double, as he put up 40 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in one of the most electric performances of his playoff career. This is my personal favorite Kobe playoff performance because you could see he was on a mission to win and push his team to the promised land for the title.



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