As tributes pour in for Kobe Bryant following his death in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Los Angeles, theScore looks back at the career and legacy of an NBA legend.
This article was originally published on April 13, 2016, hours before Kobe dropped 60 points in his remarkable farewell game against the Utah Jazz.
Following 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant's legendary NBA career will finally come to a close Wednesday evening.
With five NBA championships, two Finals MVPs, 18 All-Star appearances, and two scoring titles to his name, Bryant's resume ranks among the greatest ever.
Here are the 20 most memorable moments of the Black Mamba's career:
He wasn't the Lakers' best player during the 2001 NBA Finals, but Kobe still dominated against the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 24.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists as L.A. collected its second straight title.
19. 40 points in nine straight
After years as the Robin to Shaquille O'Neal's Batman, the Lakers finally looked like Bryant's team during the 2002-03 season. He was unguardable in February 2003, dropping at least 40 points in nine straight games.
18. Dunking on Dwight
Kobe and Dwight Howard clashed when the two were teammates in 2012-13, but Bryant wasn't all that nice to Howard early on in his career, either, as he embarrassed the big man by dunking on him during Howard's rookie season.
17. Dropping 12 threes on the Sonics
Not known as an elite 3-point shooter, Kobe had it going from beyond the arc in 2003, sinking a then-NBA record 12 threes in a win over the Seattle SuperSonics.
16. 1997 Slam Dunk contest
While Bryant was known as a lethal mid-range shooter, he was also one of the game's high-flyers earlier in his career. He garnered national attention for his ridiculous hops as a rookie, winning the 1997 Slam Dunk contest.
15. Final All-Star Game
Playing in his 18th and final All-Star Game, Kobe was the crowd favorite in Toronto. He received the loudest reception during player introductions, a touching video montage, and a standing ovation as he exited the court.
14. The first championship
It wasn't his best-ever NBA Finals appearance, but Kobe looked like a star in the making early in his career, collecting his first championship at just 22 years old in 2000.
13. Winning his fourth All-Star Game MVP
There was no such thing as friendly competition for the Black Mamba, even in All-Star Games. Bryant shares the record for most career All-Star Game MVPs, earning his fourth award in 2011 to tie NBA legend Bob Pettit's mark.
12. Gold in Beijing
On a team stacked with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers, Kobe served as the alpha dog during the United States' 2008 Olympic run, leading the "Redeem Team" to a gold medal.
11. No. 5
After losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, Kobe got revenge just two years later when he collected the fifth championship of his illustrious career over those same Celtics. The victory also gave the ever-competitive Bryant one more ring than his former teammate and rival, Shaq.
10. Staring down Matt Barnes
Kobe's reputation as a cold-blooded assassin never rang truer than during a 2009-10 regular-season matchup against the Orlando Magic. Then-Magic swingman Matt Barnes tried to rattle Kobe by pretending to throw the ball at his face. Barnes' attempt to get in Bryant's head couldn't have possibly gone any worse, as Kobe just stared him down.
9. 1998 All-Star Game
Playing in his first All-Star Game at just 19 years old, Kobe didn't back down from any of his competitors. Bryant even held his own against Michael Jordan, collecting 18 points for the West squad.
Shaq may have racked up the Finals MVP awards during the Lakers' dynasty over the course of the early 2000s, but Kobe became more instrumental to their reign with each passing year. Bryant averaged 26.8 points per game against the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 NBA Finals - which was, at the time, Kobe's career-best mark in The Finals - as L.A. cruised to a three-peat.
7. Hitting two free throws with a torn Achilles
On April 12, 2013, Kobe showed the world that not even a devastating leg injury could stop him. Limping to the line after tearing his Achilles tendon, Kobe calmly sunk both of his late-game free throws to tie the contest against the Golden State Warriors in an eventual Lakers win.
6. The alley-oop
Entering the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the Western Conference finals with a 13-point lead, the Portland Trail Blazers looked destined to reach the 2000 NBA Finals. That all changed in a heartbeat, as the Lakers - led by a young Kobe - stormed back. Los Angeles outscored Portland 31-13 in the fourth quarter and Bryant sealed the comeback with a beautiful alley-oop pass to Shaq, which had the Staples Center rocking.
5. Buzzer-beater over Suns
Phoenix ultimately won its first-round series in 2006 against the Lakers after being down 3-1, but Kobe's late-game heroics pushed the 54-win Suns to the brink. Down by one point in Game 4, the Lakers put the ball in Bryant's hands, allowing the Black Mamba to work his magic with a mid-range buzzer-beater.
4. Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals
While Kobe had already shown he was capable of becoming a great NBA player, his performance during Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals made it known he was bound for stardom. Bryant scored 28 points and took over down the stretch after Shaq fouled out to help lead Los Angeles to a 3-1 advantage and break the series open.
3. MVP at last
Despite almost single-handedly carrying the Lakers following Shaq's departure after the 2003-04 season, it took a while for Kobe to earn any hardware for his individual efforts. Finally, in 2007-08, Bryant won his first, and only, MVP award.
2. The first title without Shaq
Despite leading the league in scoring in back-to-back seasons, Kobe received a lot of criticism for failing to win a title without Shaq. That all changed in June 2009, when Bryant won his first Finals MVP after defeating the Orlando Magic in five games.
1. 81 points
With Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, and Chris Mihm serving as regular starters for the Lakers, Kobe was often forced to carry the scoring load for Los Angeles during the 2005-06 season. This was especially the case on Jan. 22, 2006, when Bryant dropped 81 points against the Toronto Raptors and sealed his status as one of the NBA's all-time greats.