Blogtable: What was Kobe’s defining moment?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Kobe’s place in Top 5 Lakers hierarchy? | What will Kobe’s legacy be? | What was Kobe’s defining moment? | Do you see coaching in Kobe’s future?

VIDEORelive Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game in 3 minutes

> What was Kobe Bryant’s defining moment?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comHe’ll probably get some love here for the championship teams he led in 2009 and 2010 without Shaquille O’Neal sharing the load. Someone might mention his MVP year or even a season in which he arguably should have won it. But to me, it’s the audacity, the brashness and the irrepressibility of his 81 points against Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006. Bryant “went” where only the great Wilt Chamberlain ever had gone, as far as points in a single game, surpassing anything his role model Michael Jordan had done. Bryant might prefer the rings, partly because they’re more politically correct as personal achievements in a team sport, but let’s face it: he was a scorer and only one guy on one night ever did that bigger – and maybe not even better, in shot selection or highlight plays – than Kobe.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comGame 5 of the Western Conference semifinal playoff series against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City in 1997. Kobe the rookie fired up airball after airball after airball in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Lakers were eliminated.  And the 18-year-old simply didn’t give a damn and kept right on shooting. That’s who Kobe has been for 20 NBA seasons — not always right, but never unsure.

Scott Howard-Cooper, There are five of them. One on each finger. Choose a hand.

Shaun Powell, If we mean a singular moment, then it’s his 81-point game. In terms of moment on a bit grander and more important scale, then I’d say his fifth championship. That gave him one more than Shaq, one less than Jordan.

John Schuhmann, The fourth quarter of the 2008 Olympic gold medal game. Shaquille O’Neal was the more important player in the Lakers’ three-peat, Bryant’s fourth title came in a lopsided series, and his fifth came with him shooting 6-for-24 in Game 7 against Boston. The gold medal game in Beijing was a do-or-die situation that the U.S. had worked three years to get to and one of the best games I’ve ever seen. After struggling through the first 7 1/2 games of the tournament, Bryant took over late and lived up to his reputation as the game’s best closer.

Sekou Smith, It’s nearly impossible to boil it down to just one. The title and Finals MVP he captured in 2009, his first title sans Shaq, sticks out to me. In order for him to shake the tag of being Shaq’s sidekick on those first three titles, he had to secure his legacy by showing that he could do it without the big fella. Once that was accomplished, he was elevated in the eyes of many. I think it validated all of the things he’d done up to that point and made him the unquestioned best player of his generation.

Ian Thomsen, He is going to be defined by the Lakers’ Game 7 victory over the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals. Bryant was injured and shooting poorly and yet he fought to the end, true to his character.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blogSo many things come to mind, but when I hear Kobe Bryant, the first thing I think of is Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals, with the series on the line, as Kobe drove the lane, pulled up for a jumper and…dished a perfect alley-oop to Shaq. To me, that play perfectly encapsulated just how great Kobe was, as well as how dangerous a duo those two could be, at least when they wanted to be.


  1. anonymous says:

    Maybe not defining but very illustrative in my opinion:
    NBA Finals 2000 Lakers vs. Pacers, Game 4: Lakers were series’ favourites and started 2-0. Then Kobe got injured (wasn’t it Jalen Rose who stepped under his foot during a shot?). Pacers took game 3. In game 4, midway through overtime, O’Neal committed his sixth foul but 21-year-old Bryant delivered three clutch shots (see Wikipedia).

    Now, I acknowledge Shaq was a dominant force. However, Kobe was injured and also still very young at the time. Lakers fans probably don’t want to imagine the rest of the series if game 4 had gone to the Pacers instead.

    Also: Many here mention his 81-point game. According to my information Jalen Rose was on the opposing Raptors and Rose in an interview (1) admitted intent on his stepping under in 2000 and (2) expressed that these two games and events might be related …

  2. Elitist says:

    It’s too bad, Kobe did not have a special wing man that was close in his age in his prime like a Westbrook and Durant or Jordan and Pippen. He had a stroke of timing that was off–to early & too late for those championships he did win, but nothing that captured him in his prime 2003-2008. Imagine if Kobe had a Shaq or Pau Gasol or anyone as good as Pippen for those middling years he didn’t win a title, of cross without title wins the years before, he would have developed this relationship with the other player. In these years if he had his Pippen and grant or rodman, you would have saw an 8-peat. But unfortunately the timing of a player’s career and the chips that fall around him ARE EVERYTHING. Yes, the media and its cash rollers have opinions and hot, large, windy, strong self-made truths–but none can crack the true marble of Kobe’s character. Kobe Bryant was the Best Basketball who has ever played the game. He took Michael Jordan’s platform and turned it into Rocket Ship. This man has had hotter hands (even colder hands at times) than anyone in the league–see John Stark’s vs Rockets 1994 game 6 in the finals for another hot hand example. He hit the toughest shots ever taken in the game, had the prettiest moves, cutting like butter through any opponent, slammed home Howard, would have made a bigger legend of his game –had he HAD THE RIGHT TIMING IN 2009 VS LEBRON to give his ultimate show of his skills, skills that were more developed and polished than MJ. And yet, the people don’t like him as much as a Magic or Jordan. He was tied with Jordan for the greatest practice players of all-time. Getting up at 4 A.M having multiple work outs a day. His obsession could not be matched and never was. Only if he had his prime in the right time–any soul would see the light that never got lit by the greatest showman, samurai, ninja, court- dictator and strong man the game never got to see. He is in a non-political reality a 7 time League MVP, the toughest survivor the game has breed, and has the spirit of Champions that can only be at bestowed by God.

  3. John Doe says:

    John Schuhmann needs to chill on the kobe hate.

  4. SOULGER ! says:

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  5. Marcus says:

    I would say Kobe’s defining moment for me was the 2 free throws he took after tearing his Achilles vs Golden State. At 34 years old, 17 years in the league, he was still one of the Top 5 players in the league. A season where Kobe and the Lakers with the additions of Nash and Howard were supposed to be dominating the league, went all kinds of wrong. But Kobe basically willed the team into the playoffs, doing whatever it took to get his team a victory. That game perfectly captured the mentality of Kobe, doing whatever it takes to win. That’s the Kobe I will remember. And how fitting, the Lakers won that game by 2 points.

  6. Scott says:

    I know the significance and memorability of a game 7 in the finals, but it always surprises me that people are so quick to bring up his poor shooting performance that game and forget that Kobe had carried his team that series. I think that series sticks out to me as a testament of Kobe’s leadership, something few have been willing to concede. The 2009-2010 Championship teams embraced and exhibited Kobe’s intensity and grit. That’s what made them champions. Some teams wilted under Kobe’s unyielding and ruthless demand for perfection but those teams flourished by accepting that challenge and making his aggression their own. To me that was really cool to see.
    It was that same intensity that astounded the olympic team members in the summer of 07, when he showed them how a champion trains and practices day in, day out. That unparalleled work ethic opened a lot of their eyes to what it takes to reach the top, inspiring them to approach their work and compete in a similar way in order to elevate their game to that next level. It’s no surprise several of the guys, like Lebron, Carmelo, and Chris Paul, went on to have career years that following season. While many will justifiably deem Duncan as the best player of that generation, Kobe was clearly the most impactful.

  7. Louis says:

    Kobe’s defining moment was from feb 28th to march 28th of 2003…. kobe had 16 consective games of 30 plus points and 11 of 14 games above 40. In that same stretch he went for 9 consecutive 40 point games with the first game of that stretch being on TNT. His 46 points at Madison Square garden was the game that Made Kobe A Basketball God… to this day, it was his single greatest performance as a showman, and as an entertainer… Exactly one month later he played his final game against michael jordan and dropped 55 against the wizards…. 42 in the first half. That will always be the night to me, when kobe took the torch out of michael jordans hand… and it will forever be my fondest memory of kobe bryant. and the defining moment of his career….

    • Scott says:

      I’m glad you brought this streak up. It’s been crazy to read all of the media’s “defining moments” and how none have mentioned moments like this one. I also like Kobe’s 2001 playoff run. That season his teammates were frustrated by what they felt was a lack of trust/willingness to share the ball, which the media would chastise him for, but once the playoffs started Kobe clearly emerged as the league’s best and most versatile player (entering the finals averaging 31.6 ppg, 49.2% fg%, 7.0 rpg, 1.6 spg, and 6.2 apg). Despite stretches of non ideal team basketball during the regular season, Kobe demonstrated he played the right way when in mattered and that’s something he would continue to show throughout his career.

  8. Robert says:

    Who is Fran Blinebury? is that a man or woman? Don’t matter. Completely out of touch, spiteful and just flat untrue comments Franny!

  9. Major Tom says:

    Thank you Kobe Bryant for playing such great basketball.

  10. Marty says:

    One of the best scorers the game has seen however there is no comparison to MJ. MJ was a complete player who would make the right play beyond just shooting. I can’t act as if he isn’t complicit in the destruction of the LA franchise. I’m afraid if u don’t see it I must say u r naive.

  11. purpngold says:

    The question is asking about Kobe’s defining moment, yet all these salty writers could do is bring up Shaq. You guys will be haters till your biter end.

    • dxfactor says:

      Totally agree with Purpngold. Why do some of these writers hate so hard on Kobe? Do they not think that fans can see how biased they are? What does Shaq have to do with it? Kobe has 5 rings, period, end of story. Quit bringing up Shaq. Kobe won 5 rings that’s it. No other legend gets his achievements discounted like this. Does anyone say Lebron won with Wade and discount his rings? Or that Wade won with Shaq and discount his rings. Even John Schumann with his quote found a way to basically discount every one of Kobe’s championships. How hard do you have to try to hate on a guy?

      • aarontyt says:

        That’s hater’s mentality, they would rather credit Ron Artest for the clutch 3 pointer than admitting that Kobe was the main factor Lakers won the championship.