Thursday, January 6, 2011

Is Kobe The Greatest Ever?

by Denise I Smithson

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant is named after the Japanese beef. He is an All-Star player who along with fellow Laker Shaquille O'Neal led the team to three consecutive NBA Championships between 2000-2002.

With the departure of O'Neal in 2003, Bryant became the team's star player, leading the league in scoring in the 2005-2006 and 206-2007 seasons. He is an 11 time NBA All-Star, 2008's NBA MVP and 3 time NBA Champion, along with having won a gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics as part of the US Olympic Men's Basketball team.

Kobe is no stranger to basketball, his father played for the Philadelphia 76'ers and coached the Los Angeles Sparks until Kobe was six years old. The family moved to Italy, where Kobe actually became interested in soccer, which he would have pursued had they stayed in Italy.

When they moved back to the States in 1991, he gained recognition during his high school years with his basketball career. He earned a SAT score of 1080, but decided to go directly into the NBA at the age of 17, having his parent co-sign his contract with the Lakers since he could not sign on his own until he turned 18. He became the youngest player to play and start in an NBA game.

In his first year, he earned a spot on the NBA All Rookie second team and gained recognition by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. By 1998-99, he was a premiere guard in the league and being compared to basketball greats like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. In 1999, with new coach of the Lakers, Phil Jackson, he started his rise to the elite class as one of the best shooting guards in the league.

During the 2002-2003 season, Bryant averaged 30 points per game, posting 40 or more in nine games in a row! He was also voted to the All Defensive 1st Team and the All NBA team in this season. However, his reputation was badly tarnished before the following season due to his arrest for sexual assault.

In the 2003-2004 season, Bryant was criticized by many, including his coach who complained in writing that he was becoming uncoachable. He suffered another hit to his reputation with the Lakers first failure to make it to the NBA playoffs in more than ten years.

His next two seasons were not among his best; however, this was until breaking a Lakers record by scoring 81 points in a single game and amassing the second highest point total in the history of the NBA. His jersey became the top selling jersey in the US and China during the 2006-2007 season. He became the youngest player to ever reach a career total of 20,000 points in December 2007, when he was 29.
Bryant's appearance in the 2008 Olympics cemented his status as an international star. It was his first appearance in the Olympic Games, but Bryant was hardly a rookie when he became a gold medalist. Bryant has set and broken several records in his career.


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