Kobe Bean Bryant (born August 23, 1978) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He entered the NBA directly from high school, and has played for the Lakers his entire career, winning five NBA championships. Bryant is a 17-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team. He has led the league in scoring twice, and he ranks third on both the league’s all-time regular season scoring and all-time postseason scoring lists. After beginning his 20th season with the Lakers in 2015–16, which set an NBA record for the most seasons with the same team, Bryant announced that he would retire after the season.
The son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, Kobe Bryant enjoyed a successful high school basketball career at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the country. He declared his eligibility for the NBA draft upon graduation, and was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft by theCharlotte Hornets, then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and he was named an All-Star by his second season. Despite a feud between them, Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault in Colorado, but the charges were eventually dropped, and a civil suit was settled out of court. After the Lakers lost the 2004 NBA Finals, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat. Bryant became the cornerstone of the Lakers, and he led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. In 2006, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points scored in a single game in league history, second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. He was awarded the regular season’s Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in 2008. After losing in the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant led the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009and 2010, earning the NBA Finals MVP Award on both occasions.
At 34 years and 104 days of age, Bryant became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He is also the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. Since his second year in the league, Bryant has been selected to start every All-Star Game. He has won the All-Star MVP Award four times (2002, 2007, 2009, and 2011), tying him for the most All Star MVP Awards in NBA history. At the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, he won gold medals as a member of theU.S. national team. Sporting News and TNT named Bryant the top NBA player of the 2000s.
After recovering to play in the 2015–16 preseason, Bryant suffered a calf injury and missed the final two weeks of exhibition games. However, he played in the season opener to begin his 20th season with the Lakers, surpassing John Stockton’s league record of 19 for the most seasons with the same team. On November 24, 2015, the Lakers fell to 2–12 after losing 111–77 to the Warriors, as the defending NBA champions improved to 16–0 and broke the league record for consecutive wins to start a season. Bryant scored just four points in 25 minutes on 1-for-14 shooting, matching the worst-shooting game of his career in which he attempted at least five shots. On December 1, 2015, Bryant played his last game against his hometown team, the Philadelphia 76ers, where the Lakers lost 91-103. The following day, Bryant had his first game over 30 points since April 12, 2013, where Bryant scored 31 points against the Washington Wizards.
On November 29, 2015, Bryant announced via The Players’ Tribune that he will be retiring at the end of the season. In his poem titled “Dear Basketball”, Bryant wrote that he fell in love with the game at age six; “A love so deep I gave you my all/From my mind & body/To my spirit & soul.” The 2015–16 season “is all I have left to give./My heart can take the pounding/My mind can handle the grind/But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye./And that’s OK./I’m ready to let you go.” In a letter distributed to Lakers’ fans before that evening’s game against the Indiana Pacers, Bryant wrote, “What you’ve done for me is far greater than anything I’ve done for you. … My love for this city, this team and for each of you will never fade. Thank you for this incredible journey.
On April 13, 2016, Bryant played his final NBA game against the Utah Jazz, scoring a season-high 60 points (the most points scored by a player that season), including outscoring the entire Jazz team 23–21 in the fourth quarter, in the Lakers’ 101–96 victory
Career highlights and awards
5× NBA champion (2000–2002, 2009–2010)
2× NBA Finals MVP (2009–2010)
NBA Most Valuable Player (2008)
17× NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2015)
4× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009,2011)
11× All-NBA First Team (2002–2004, 2006–2013)
2× All-NBA Second Team (2000–2001)
2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2005)
9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000,2003–2004, 2006–2011)
3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2001–2002,2012)
2× NBA scoring champion (2006–2007)
NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1997)
NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997)
Los Angeles Lakers all-time leading scorer
Naismith Prep Player of the Year (1996)
Points 33,643 (25.0 ppg)
Rebounds 7,047 (5.2 rpg)
Assists 6,306 (4.7 apg)
Men’s basketball Representing the United States
Gold medal – first place 2008 Beijing Team
Gold medal – first place 2012 London Team
FIBA Americas Championship
Gold medal – first place 2007 Las Vegas Team