In honour of Kobe Bryant's 40th birthday on Thursday, we're rolling out Kobe Week! Each day we'll be celebrating his finest moments, pondering the unanswerable questions and diving into a legacy that's among the most storied in all of sports.
No moment was too big for Kobe Bryant. Over the course of his 20-year career, he provided countless memories that won't easily be forgotten.
From insane scoring performances to jaw-dropping dunks and clutch buckets, the Black Mamba did it all. While it's nearly impossible to choose just one, the team looks back at their favourite memories from Kobe's career…
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Kobe Bryant scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors for two reasons. The first is because it was a historic night, with Kobe scoring the second-most points we've ever seen in an NBA game. The second is because I share a birthday with the game's anniversary. My 14-year-old self will forever be convinced that this performance was Kobe's gift to me.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Kobe taking over in the Gold Medal game at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. I vividly remember staying up, anxiously awaiting the game's 1:30 a.m. tip. The pressure was high as Team USA looked to bounce back from a third-place finish in 2004 while Spain's roster featured Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, the Gasol brothers and a young Ricky Rubio. Things remained close down the stretch, but it was Kobe's 4-point play and subsequent hushing of the crowd with 3:10 remaining that put the game away in my mind. That will always stick with me.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): I can't think of a more perfect or fitting end to a career than Kobe dropping 60 points on 50 shots in front of an absolutely raucous STAPLES Center crowd, including 23 (whaddup, Jordan!) in the 4th quarter. Whenever I think of Kobe Bryant, this game will be the one that stands out the most.
James McKern (@jLmcKern): He's had so many dominant scoring outbursts but the one that stands out to me the most is the game against the Dallas Mavericks. Only days out from Christmas and Bryant torched the Mavericks squad for 62 points through three quarters. At that point the scoreboard read Kobe Bryant 62 - Dallas Mavericks 61. He singlehandedly outscored an NBA team through three quarters of professional basketball. Watching it to this day still defies belief.
Alex Novick (@Anov_SN): There was never a moment I thought Kobe was cooler than when he obliterated Dwight Howard in Orlando, six games into Dwight's rookie year. Dwight had reeled off five straight double-figure rebound games to begin his career and you know he was feeling good. Kobe must've sensed this because he gave Dwight as harsh a reality check as one could get, ferociously throwing it down on his head and then straddling him for good measure. Has Dwight ever truly recovered?