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Kobe's Career Is Coming to an End

With Kobe Bryant’s career coming to an end in just a couple of months, let’s take a look back at the Mamba’s legacy.

Bryant declared for the 1996 NBA Draft after his senior year at Lower Merion High School, just outside of Philadelphia. He had offers to play at Duke, North Carolina, Villanova and Michigan, as well as many more. Bryant was named Naismith High School Player of the Year, Gatorade Men’s National Basketball Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American.

In the 1996 NBA Draft, Kobe went number 13 overall to the Charlotte Hornets and was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Many believe Kobe didn’t go higher because players who went from high school to the pros didn’t usually pan out, and this is a money-making business.

Bryant’s rookie season didn’t go according to plan. He didn’t see the floor very much until later in the season. But, Kobe did win the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, becoming the youngest dunk champion at just 18 years of age. He was also named to the NBA All-Rookie second team.

In his second year, Bryant became the youngest All-Star starter in NBA history. He was also the runner-up for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, which went to Danny Manning.

Bryant and the Lakers took off from 1999 when Phil Jackson was hired as the coach. From 1999-2002, the Lakers won three straight NBA Titles. The team defeated Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets.

The Lakers went to the NBA Finals again in 2004 but lost in five games to the Detroit Pistons. Bryant re-signed with the Lakers on seven-year contract.

In 2006, Bryant scored a career-high and franchise-record 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.

The Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals again in 2008 with the help of Pau Gasol, but were once again defeated. This time it was by the Boston Celtics.

However, Kobe led the Lakers to the 2009 NBA Finals and defeated the Orlando Magic in five games. Bryant won his fourth NBA Title and his first NBA Finals MVP.

In 2010, the Bryant and the Lakers advanced to their third straight NBA Finals. Facing the Boston Celtics once again, this time with the Lakers coming out on top. This gave Kobe his fifth and final NBA Title and his second Finals MVP.

Kobe is one of the NBA’s GOATs. He is a legend. One of the best players to ever play the game. Kobe will finish his career in 2016. Many coaches and opponents won’t be sad to see him go, because he has always been a matchup nightmare.

Over the course of his career, Kobe has won five championships, two Finals MVPs and one regular season MVP. He has been named to 18 All-Star Games and won the All-Star Game MVP four times. Kobe was named to 11 All-NBA First Teams, two Second Teams and two Third Teams.

Kobe was also a nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team and three-time Second Team, which is something you don’t normally see from a player who led the NBA in scoring.

Bryant has also scored over 33,000 points in his career, which is good for third all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. He passed Michael Jordan in November 2014 for the third spot on the list.

Who knows how many more points Bryant would have scored if not for a few injuries and the major Achilles tendon injury he suffered. Or, if he could play another year or two. But at least for the Mamba, he is going out on his own accord. Which is what every athlete wants to do.

Kobe kept the NBA relevant when MJ called it quits. And, LeBron and KD will keep the NBA going until the next superstar comes along.

Thanks Kobe for a heck of a career and playing the game the way it was meant to be played.

Images via: urbanmediakings.com, allsportsamerican.sportsblog.com, blackpressusa.com