DAR Sports: The 8 Greatest Kobe Bryant Seasons

By @TrueGodImmortal

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. That's a fact. Over the years, he's etched out a legacy for himself that can't be denied or ignored and he's widely seen as the 2nd greatest shooting guard of all time just under Michael Jordan. With such a dubious honor bestowed upon him, Kobe took his rightful place as a true legend before retiring last year. Today, we wanted to continue our look back at his legacy and rank the best seasons of his career. Let's get into it.

8. 2006-2007 Season
(31.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, Scoring Title)

-This is one of those seasons that didn't end quite like Kobe wanted it to, but if he would have had more options on his team, he might have been able to pull something off. This was also the seasom we watched Kobe transition from 8 to 24. Still, this season was pretty epic for Kobe once he got things going. After a tough start, Kobe would take off after a 52 point performance against the Utah Jazz and never look back. The apex of the season was when Kobe had 4 straight games with over 50 points scored including a 65 point night. The Lakers didn't go far in the playoffs but Kobe led them there at least through his excellent play this season. With All NBA Defensive Team accolades, All NBA First Team accolades, and being voted in as an all star, Kobe was on point this season, it's just a shame he didn't get beyond the first round this year.

7. 2007-2008 Season
(28.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, MVP, NBA Finals Appearance)

-His one and only MVP season was interesting, to say the least. While Kobe deserved the award without a doubt, I feel like the voters finally gave him this honor because he was passed over on previous seasons. Still, Kobe was magnificent this year, much like he was every season in his prime, and he would lead the Lakers to the promised land once again. With Pau Gasol by his side to complete a new Lakers duo, Kobe would lead the Lakers to a 57-25 record and the first seed in the West, earning Kobe that elusive MVP. After his MVP season, Kobe would shine in the playoffs, making easy work of most of his opponents in the West before unfortunately running into the Eastern Conference juggernaut, the new Big 3 Boston Celtics in the Finals. Kobe and the Lakers would come up short in the Finals, but Kobe had proven one thing for sure and that's that he could lead the Lakers to the Finals without Shaq and as the leader of the team. If the Lakers would have been able to defeat the Celtics, this season might have made it into the top 5, but it is still a great Kobe season and as you see, it's one of his best.

6. 2012-2013 Season (27.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.4 SPG)

-This is the last great Kobe season and this makes the list mostly due to the fact that he was in his 17th season putting up some amazing numbers. The Lakers weren't as strong as they should have been, and the transition of adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash weighed heavily on the team chemistry. Still, while the Lakers as a whole struggled, Kobe stepped up and pushed them towards the playoffs and gave all that he had to make sure the Lakers won games. It's where everything changed for Kobe. While many may not remember this season as fondly as they should, this was another All Star season for him, and another season that he made the All NBA First Team. He would get injured at the worst time, as the regular season came to an end, and that was essentially the beginning of the end for Kobe, but his work throughout the season to carry that team should not be ignored. This is the last glimpse of Kobe and his greatness for a full season.

5. 2002-2003 Season (30.0 PPG, 6.9 BPG, 5.9 APG, 2.2 SPG)

-If this season ended with a Finals appearance or even a MVP award or scoring title, it would be top 3 possibly. This is the season that began the ascension of Kobe into the discussion of being the best player. Kobe stepped up and began to take the role of the best player on the Lakers and it was evident that the reigns of the franchise were his for the taking. Shaq was battling injuries, and the wear and tear of a threepeat can cause fatigue, but it seemed to only help with Kobe's focus. We watched him match up against his basketball idol Jordan as a much different player from previous years and we saw him develop his game even more overall. I think Kobe was the best player on the court this season, even though Tim Duncan would end up winning the MVP award. Kobe was magnificent all around on the court, grabbing boards, dishing assists, scoring at will, and taking over games for the Lakers. The internal power struggle of the Lakers came to an end this season IMO. Sure, Shaq was dominant and unstoppable, but it was evident his time was slowly beginning to pass and it was now time to pass Kobe the crown. I only wonder what would have happened if the Lakers made the Finals for a 4th straight time, perhaps Kobe would have that 6th ring and a 3rd Finals MVP. We'll never know, but what we do know is that Kobe was amazing this season.

4. 2009-2010 Season
(27.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, NBA Champion, Finals MVP)

-Many would like to point to this season to say that LeBron became the best player in the world, but the truth is, Kobe still had a claim to it. His stats were top tier for a 2 guard, but his impact on the game was even more important, and he would showcase why he's one of the most clutch players in the history of the game. With the game on the line, Kobe would show up big time and this season, he did multiple times. In addition of his game winners, Kobe was just a more focused and precise leader for his team and of course, the biggest piece of the puzzle for their success. The Lakers were defending champions and set on repeating as champions. Kobe battled some minor injury issues through the season, but when his team needed him the most, he was there once again. The Lakers would finish as the no. 1 seed in the West once again, and they would head into the playoffs ready to win. Kobe shined through the playoffs and would end up winning his 5th title after defeating the Celtics, the same team who beat him in the Finals two seasons prior. Kobe would win his 2nd Finals MVP and his second title without Shaq and he's gone on record to say that this was this most satisfying title win. This is essentially the start of the end of Kobe in his prime, and it's a season that will always be remembered.

3. 2008-2009 Season
(26.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, NBA Champion, Finals MVP)

-While the numbers don't make his season look as impressive as it is, this was the year that we knew Kobe was not only the best player on the planet at the time, but that he was also able to deliver a championship without Shaq by his side. During the regular season, Kobe essentially coasted, scoring at will, delivering game winners, and leading the Lakers to a 65-17 record. His 61 point performance at MSG is one of the best in his career (his best performance of the regular season this year) and a record at the arena, plus he would secure the Western Conference Player of the Month award for both December and January. He would finish 2nd in the MVP voting behind LeBron James, and in addition to another All Star accolade and being made All NBA First Team again, Kobe would finally get that elusive 4th championship with a superb performance throughout the playoffs and the Finals, winning Finals MVP while putting up 32.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.4 BPG to lead the Lakers over the Magic. This was the season that solidified Kobe for the legend he truly was and the leader he could be. This was the season that silenced all the doubters and that's why it is in the top 3.

2. 2005-2006 Season 
(35.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, Scoring Title)

-In terms of scoring, this is the best Kobe season and that is obvious. This is the season when Kobe got the reputation for not wanting to pass and to be honest, could you blame him? Kobe went out and carried the team on his back, similar to what we witnessed Westbrook do this past season. Kobe was a one man show this year, and he did everything in his power to push the Lakers to the playoffs, which he did. To me, if you need another indicator on why Kobe is one of the greatest scorers ever, look no further than this season. Kobe had 77 games where he scored 20 points or more this season, and a lot of those featured him putting up 30 points or more as well. This was the infamous season where Kobe dropped 81 points on the Raptors, and 62 points in 3 quarters against the Mavericks along with a number of dazzling 40 and 50 point games on the year. Without Kobe, the Lakers would have been a lottery team, instead he lead them to the 7th seed and a near upset victory over the Phoenix Suns in the first round. He should have won MVP this season, as there was no way anyone in the NBA was more valuable to their team than Kobe. This is probably his single greatest season as an individual and a scorer, but it just misses the no. 1 as an overall season due to lack of playoff success.

1. 2000-2001 Season
(28.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 46% FG, NBA Champion)

-This was a tough choice, but for me, this is the best Kobe season and I'm sure it will be debated, as it should. What made this the choice for me was that Kobe had not quite reached his peak as a player and he would improve on everything. This was the coming of age season for Kobe and it was the year we realized he was destined to be the man eventually in LA. After many people felt that Shaq was carrying Kobe to the playoffs and championships, Kobe stepped his game up immensely this season and became one of the best players on the court during this season. He hadn't quite reached his prime yet, but he was right there on the verge of it, and that's what makes this season his overall best. He wasn't even at his greatest skill or basketball IQ wise yet, but he managed to have one of those epic seasons, and show that he could be a scorer and a top defender in the NBA. After a great season that saw the Lakers atop the West once again, Kobe stepped up even more in the playoffs, averaging playoff career highs in rebounds and assists, while averaging nearly 30 points a game. Considering his performances in the prior seasons before this, Kobe made a huge leap as a player this year it seemed and the stats definitely back it up. Kobe and Shaq would end up leading the Lakers to their second straight title and one of the greatest playoff runs ever, going 15-1. In addition to the playoff record, the stats, and the NBA Title, Kobe would be voted in as an All Star, make the All NBA Team and the All Defensive Team as well. This was the year Kobe stepped out the shadows and let the world know who he was and what he could do while winning along the way. That's why this ranks as his best season.



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