Kobe has arguably been the best player in the NBA at several times throughout his career. Despite some unsavory of-the-court antics, Bryant is undeniably fun to watch and has had to step up to the spotlight more and more.
He won his first three championships with some considerable help from Shaquille O’Neal in 2000, ’01 and ’02, but when O’Neal left for Miami and won another championship there, several questioned whether Kobe would ever win another one. This culminated with a freestyle rap song by Shaq following the Lakers’ 2008 Finals loss to the Celtics, in which he kept repeating, “Kobe couldn’t do without me” and “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes?” Entertaining as it was, Kobe gave the best answer by leading LA to championships in 2009 and ’10.
Kobe may have been naturally gifted with a lot of talent, but it has always been his relentless practice and study of the game, along with his possibly unmatched ability to play through the pain of injury, that has truly set him apart and put him at the top of the NBA.