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Did you know...?: Kobe Bryant

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Where to begin? So much is already known about Kobe Bean Bryant that I'm sure it won't be easy to come up with anything you don't already know. There was the childhood in Italy, the adolescence in Philadelphia, the blossoming into a basketball phenom, his jump from high school to the NBA, his high-flying rookie year.

There's also the first inkling of trouble with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe's displeasure at being considered a sidekick, the name-calling (by teammates, the media, fans, "h8rs"), the lashing out at Shaq, the tussle over whose team it was (BTW, Jerry Buss wanted everyone to remember it was HIS team), the mudslinging, the sexual assault charges/trial, the 2004 Finals loss, the alleged threats to leave if Shaq stayed with the team another year, then accusations that he ran Shaq and Phil Jackson out of town (and Phil's subsequent book), the dark days of 2004-2007: Rudy Tomjanovich/Frank Hamblen coaching, missing the playoffs for the first time in more than 10 seasons, Phil coming out of retirement to return as Lakers head coach, the two first-rounds exits (courtesy of the Phoenix Suns), the parking lot rant about Andrew Bynum, the trade demand. So much stuff has happened in the 15 years we've known Kobe Bryant.

Of course, there was a lot of good stuff too, to the tune of 5 championships (one 3-peat down with another on the way), an MVP award, two Finals MVPs, an Olympic gold medal, numerous records set and many more broken, and more still to break. That said, let's see what we can learn about Kobe Bryant.

 

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  • He was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1978; he is the youngest of 3 children and the only boy (sisters Sharia and Shaya)
  • His father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, played professional basketball for the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers, and Houston Rockets before moving his family to Italy to play there; when he retired in 1991, the family moved back to Philadelphia
  • Kobe was given his first basketball at the age of 2, and he hasn't been without one since; his favorite team as a child was the Los Angeles Lakers; his grandfather sent him VHS tapes (raise your hands if you know what those are) of NBA games, which Kobe studied religiously
  • At Lower Merion High School, Kobe played on the varsity squad as a freshman, a year when the team didn't do much; from his sophomore through senior years, Kobe led the team to a 77-13 record and played all five positions (remind you of anyone?); the team won its first state championship in 53 years, with Kobe averaging 30.8 PPG, 12 RPG, 6.5 APG, 4 SPG and 3.8 BPG; the Lower Merion Aces went 31-3 in his senior year; he ended his career as Southeastern Pennsylvania's all-time leading scorer with 2,883 points (surpassing Wilt Chamberlain and Lionel Simmons); he played at Adidas' ABCD camp with Lamar Odom (Kobe was named MVP), and worked out with the 76ers, going one-on-one with Jerry Stackhouse
  • As a senior, Kobe received several awards, including being named Naismith High School Player of the Year, Gatorade Men's National Basketball Player of the Year, a McDonald's All-American, and a USA Today All-USA First Team player
  • Upon graduating from high school at the age of 17, Kobe announced that he was forgoing college and "taking [his] talents to the NBA", becoming only the 6th player in NBA history to do so
  • He was taken 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, the first guard ever taken out of high school, and immediately handed over to the Lakers, who had agreed the day before the draft to swap Vlade Divac for Kobe; his parents had to co-sign his contract as he was still a minor when the draft took place
  • Before Jermaine O'Neal, and subsequently Andrew Bynum, Kobe was the youngest player to ever play in an NBA game, coming off the bench behind Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel in his rookie season (1996-1997); he also won the Slam Dunk Contest at the 1997 All Star Game, the youngest to do so at age 18
  • In his second season, he was a runner up for the Sixth Man of the Year Award and became the youngest NBA All Star starter in NBA history
  • He became a starter in 1998-1999, the lockout season, and started all 50 games; the Spurs knocked the Lakers out of the WCF and went on to win their first championship
  • The Lakers bounced back the following year (1999-2000) when they hired Phil Jackson as head coach; Kobe averaged 22.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.5 APG and 1.6 SPG; the team won 67 games and Kobe won his first championship alongside Shaq
  • The 2000-2001 season saw trouble brewing between Kobe and Shaq, and the team won 56 games; despite the bubbling brouhaha, Kobe and Shaq won their second consecutive championship
  • In 2001-2002, Kobe played 80 games for the first time; the team won 58 games and went on the sweep the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, and take the second round series from the Spurs 4-1; the WCF against the Sacramento Kings went 7 games, with the Lakers winning and heading to their third straight Finals; Kobe became the youngest player to win three championships
  • In June 2003, Kobe went to Eagle, CO for knee surgery; in July he was arrested and charged with sexual assault in Eagle, CO, after a hotel worker accused him of raping her in his room the night before his surgery (Kobe admitted to the encounter but maintained it was consensual); the case was dropped in September 2004 when the woman refused to testify, but a later civil suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum
  • During the 2003-2004 season, which saw Karl Malone and Gary Payton don the purple and gold, Kobe missed games for court dates in Colorado; he sometimes appeared in court in the morning and flew back to L.A. to play in a game the same night; at the end of the tumultuous season, the Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 Finals; Phil Jackson retired and Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat

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  • Phil Jackson returned for the 2005-2006 season, with Kobe endorsing the move (to the surprise of many, particularly in light of Phil's book the previous year)
  • On December 20, 2005, Kobe scored 62 points in 3 quarters against the Dallas Mavericks, the only time a player has done such a thing in the 24-second shot clock era; to that point, Dallas had only scored 61 points meaning Kobe outscored the team by himself; he sat out the 4Q
  • On January 22, 2006, a month after his dismantling of the Mavericks, Kobe made history again by scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors; it was the second highest individual point total, after Wilt Chamberlain's 100 in 1962; that same month, Kobe averaged 43.4 PPG, and had 4 consecutive 45+ point games

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via hoopedia.nba.com

  • Kobe won his first scoring title after averaging 35.4 PPG on the season
  • The Lakers made the playoffs but were knocked out of the first round by the Phoenix Suns (after being up in the series 3-1, they lost in 7)
  • During the 2006-2007 season, Kobe changed his jersey number from 8 to 24; he was also suspended twice following incidents of "unnatural motion" by flailing his arms and causing injury to Manu Ginóbili and  Marko Jarić
  • On March 16, 2007, he had the second-highest scoring output of his career with 65 points against the Blazers, a game the Lakers won, ending a 7-game losing streak (and we thought this season was bad with 3- and 4-game losing streaks!); the next three games saw Kobe score 50+ points; he ended the season with 10 such games and won his second, consecutive scoring title, averaging 31.6 PPG
  • The Lakers made the playoffs, but were eliminated once again by the Suns; in May, Kobe demanded a trade to Pluto; after a talk with Jackson, he backed off and said he'd heard Pluto was going to be de-certified as a planet and he'd rather go to Mars (kidding!); that summer he was recorded on amateur video ranting about Andrew Bynum and saying he should have been traded for Jason Kidd ("Ship his ass out!"--hmmm, how would that have worked out?)
  • In Summer 2007, he won a gold medal in the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas
  • On December 23, 2007, he became the youngest player to join the 20,000 points club at age 29 years, 122 days
  • He fractured the pinky on his right hand on February 5, 2008 while attempting to steal the ball from Jason Kidd (karma?) and delayed surgery to repair the injury until...wait...oh, he still hasn't had it, never mind
  • The Lakers won the West with a record of 57-25, and Kobe received his first, and only (to date) Most Valuable Player Award; they went on to lose to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 Finals (really, do I need to say anything else about that?)
  • In August 2008, he led the U.S. Men's Basketball team to a gold medal in the Summer Olympics in China

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via www.nbakobe.org

  • On February 2, 2009, Kobe scored 61 points against the New York Knicks and set a record for the most points scored at Madison Square Garden
  • The Lakers ended the season at 65-17 and made their second consecutive trip to the Finals, defeating the Orlando Magic; Kobe was named Finals MVP for the first time, and earned his fourth championship
  • During the 2009-2010 season, Kobe made a record 6 game-winning shots, and passed Jerry West for all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history; he also became the youngest player to reach 25,000 points and signed a 3-year contract extension worth $87 million
  • On December 11, 2009, Kobe fractured the index finger on his shooting hand (thanks Farmar!) and elected to delay surgery until...hold on, lemme find it...oh, he waited too long and there's nothing he can do about it now, so move along; he missed 9 games during the season due to various injuries
  • The Lakers ended the 2009-2010 season with a record of 57-25 and returned to the Finals for the third straight year; their opponents: THE BOSTON CELTICS
  • On June 17, 2010, the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in an historic 7-game series, earning their 16 NBA championship; Kobe earned his fifth championship and was named Finals MVP for the second time in his career
  • So far this season, Kobe hasn't done a whole lot except pass John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone on the NBA All-Time Scoring List; he sits alone at #6--next target, Shaquille O'Neal
  • He has been chosen for 13 straight All Star Games and in 2011 earned his 4th All Star Game MVP award, tying him with Bob Pettit
  • He is one of only 17 active players who've spent their entire career with one franchise
  • Kobe has played all 82 games only 3 times in his career--2002-2003, 2007-2008, 2008-2009
  • In 2009, Sporting News and TNT named Kobe the NBA player of the 2000s decade
  • Kobe married Vanessa Laine in April 2001; their daughter Natalia Diamante was born in January 2003, and their daughter Gianna Maria-Onore was born in May 2006
  • He keeps an apartment at The Ritz near STAPLES Center so as to cut down on his travel time on game days (not so many helicopter rides these days)
  • He is fluent in Italian and Spanish
  • His favorite soccer team is AC Milan (he also plays)
  • He is old, a ballhog, a bad teammate and definitely not clutch
  • He's no Michael Jordan
  • He's Kobe Bean Bryant

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So, there's a lot of information about Kobe, but no information (not gossip), so feel free to tell us in your comments...

What do you know about Kobe Bryant?

 

Author's note: All info can be found on Wikipedia, NBA.com.