…& the other guard wears No. 24: a look back at the most dominant stretch of Kobe Bryant’s career


You can’t put much past Kobe. We take his infal­li­ble deter­mi­na­tion for granted, think he’s capa­ble of things far beyond human capa­bil­i­ties, and know bet­ter than to bet against him. But as he returns from what many con­sid­ered a career end­ing injury (con­sid­er­ing his age and the miles he’s logged), it remains to be seen who this Kobe Bryant is.

With his tremen­dous work ethic and cere­bral approach to the game, he’s reli­giously added some­thing new to his reper­toire every off­sea­son, and 17 off­sea­son equals a lot of weapons. Dur­ing that course, he’s always been the same player, just always get­ting more effi­cient, more refined, more deadly. Always get­ting bet­ter at being the Mamba, but never hav­ing to rede­fine himself.

Indi­vid­u­ally Kobe was never more fear­some than in the 2005-06 sea­son. This was the emre­gence of the Mamba.  He was pissed off and play­ing against the world. The world that judged him as self­ish for break­ing up a poten­tial Laker Dynasty. That hated him for his legal trou­ble. He took that hate, that judge­ment, that venom and became some­thing utterly frightful.

He started drop­ping video game scor­ing lines almost every night.

Here’s playlist of all his 40+ point games from that season:


In that sea­son alone, he crossed the 40 point mark 23 times. He had 5 50 point games. FIVE! He dropped 62 on the Mav­er­icks in 3 quar­ters and sat out the fourth because they’d blown them out so badly that the game was already over. And it all crescendo’d in the instantly leg­endary 81 point game against the Rap­tors. It was so unbe­liev­able that peo­ple thought it was a typo in the box score.

It was Kobe against the world & Kobe was win­ning… with a team whose 3rd and 4th best play­ers were Smush Parker & Kwame Brown (!!!), he shot his way to play­offs and pushed the then mighty Suns to 7 games. Sin­gle Hand­edly! He was the best player on the planet, the most feared scorer of his gen­er­a­tion at his apex, and accord­ing to Bill Sim­mons, the deserv­ing MVP of the league that season.


Since then his team’s got­ten bet­ter, he’s won two more rings, fought the onset of age with secret pro­ce­dures in Ger­many, and had his career hit by its biggest speed bump yet.

An torn Achilles at 35 is career alter­ing. In any other player’s case, career end­ing. The injury cou­pled with the age may require Kobe to, for the first time in his oth­er­wise mostly injury free career, reimag­ine him­self as a dif­fer­ent kind of bas­ket­ball beast. But a beast nonethe­less. It may take time, some early grow­ing pains, but it will hap­pen. This is Kobe we’re talk­ing about.

But while we eagerly await the emer­gence of this new incar­na­tion, while John Darnielle sings ’cause you just can’t do, thing’s your body wasn’t meant to’,

it would be good to look back at the Kobe that once was… and will always be.



Dev Kabir Malik has a clinically alarming dependence on basketball and spends most of his time watching, analyzing, writing and even playing a little pickup (and some 2K too). In the little time he has left, he dabbles with design, art & music.