Kobe Bryant: 50 Greatest Moments of Black Mamba’s Career

Jan 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) warms up before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) warms up before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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25. Game 1, 2009 NBA Finals

The 2009 NBA Finals provided Kobe Bryant with the ultimate shot at redemption. After winning three consecutive NBA championships between 2000 and 2002, Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers fell short in the 2004 and 2008 NBA Finals, respectively.

Worst of all, Bryant had to watch Shaquille O’Neal win a fourth title without him as a member of the Miami Heat in 2006.

Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Finals sent a resounding message to the Orlando Magic: nothing was going to stop him from bucking the downward trend. He torched Orlando for 40 points on 16-of-34 shooting from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 mark at the free throw line.

For good measure, Bryant flirted with a triple-double, tallying eight rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, and a pair of steals in the 100-75 win.

In the 25-point domination of the Magic, Bryant was a fitting plus-25 in the +/- department. The performance set the stage for a series during which Bryant averaged 32.4 points and 7.4 assists, and dominated every phase of the game.

The rest will be covered in a future slide, but Game 1 stands out as one of No. 24’s greatest individual performances.

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