When speaking on the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball, there is no way a list can be compiled without mentioning the legendary Kobe ‘Bean’ Bryant!
The son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, he was born in Philadelphia and partly raised in Italy. After being recognized as the top American high school basketball player while at Philadelphia’s Lower Merion, he declared for the 1996 NBA Draft. He was taken with the 13th selection by the Charlotte Hornets then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. The rest was history.
The Black Mamba went on to play his whole career (20 seasons) for the franchise. During his tenure with the team, he became one of the most decorated players of all-time. In his illustrious career, Bryant won five NBA championships (with two Finals MVPs), was the 2008 Most Valuable Player, was an 18 time All-Star (with 4 MVPs), a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team and a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team. He also led the league in scoring twice and ranks fourth in league all-time regular season and postseason scoring. After his untimely passing, he was voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020 and named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021. On top of all of his basketball accomplishments, he also won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for the film Dear Basketball (2017).
Bean’s legacy is one that will live on forever. His family, former/current players and his millions of fans continue to carry on the Mamba Mentality that Kobe lived his life with. His numbers will also forever live in the rafters as he became the first player ever to have two numbers retired. On this day 6 years ago, the city of Los Angeles declared 8/24 Kobe Bryant Day. To pay homage to one of the greatest of all time, we put together a gallery of some of our favorite photos of him. HAPPY MAMBA DAY! Share your favorite Kobe moments in the comments!