Kobe Bryant‘s Hall of Fame induction will take place on Saturday, May 15, 2021. Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant will be speaking at the ceremony as well as his presenter, Michael Jordan. Few players have as strong a hall of fame case as the black mamba, even amongst his own 2020 hoops hall class which includes former MVPs, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. So in honor of this special occasion, let’s look back at the late great Kobe Bryant’s career. Rather than lament the fact that Bryant’s life and basketball career are over, let’s take this moment to appreciate the fact that they happened in the first place.
Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame Induction is Well Deserved
Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame Case
As the headliner for the 2020 hoops hall class, it is very easy to make Bryant’s hall of fame case. Listing them all in just one article? That’s a lot more challenging. The two Olympic gold medals from 2008 and 2012 are good places to start. As well as his five NBA championships, two finals MVPs and one regular-season MVP. Those alone would get a player into the hall but the bean has so many more accomplishments. Bryant made the all NBA team 15 times, which is tied for second all time with Duncan and former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Of those 15, 11 were first-team All-NBA also the second most all-time. Beyond that Bryant has two scoring titles, 12 all-defensive teams and an NBA record, four all-star MVPs. It’s for this very reason that award is now named after the Black Mamba.
Bryant was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in June 1996, when Bryant was just 17 years old. The Los Angeles Lakers acquired him via draft day trade and have been laughing their way to the bank ever since. Since he was so young, his career started off slow despite showing a lot of promise. Over his first two seasons, Bryant came off of the bench and averaged a mere 11.7 points per game. Despite his mediocre numbers, Bryant was immediately a fan favorite due to his flair and unreal leaping ability. This lead to him being the youngest all star starter ever at just 19 years old. Other than the 1999 lockout season, in which there was no all star game, Bryant would go on to make every all star team until his retirement.
What the Bean was most notorious for was his scoring ability. Over his 20 year career, Bryant would score 33,643 points which was the third most ever at the time he retired. He also has the second most 60 point games (six) and the third most 50 point games (25) of all time. Only player in NBA history besides the unfathomable Wilt Chamberlain to score at least 80 points in a game and is one of four players to ever average 40 points over a month. You read that correctly. Kobe Bryant averaged over 40 points per game in March 2007, February 2003 and January 2006. The only player to ever do that 3x or more is of course Chamberlain.
An International Icon
This isn’t as tangible as the other stuff like his accolades and his scoring records but Kobe’s fame is what separates him from other first ballot hall-of-famers. Garnett and Duncan have pretty similar basketball resumes to Bryant’s but their international recognition is not even close. Whenever anybody throws a piece of paper into a trash bin, they yell out “KOBE!”. Not “TIMMY” or “KEVIN”. He was the most famous player for the most iconic franchise in the sport. Kobe could dunk on you and hit the game-winning three over you in the same game. From the incredible work ethic to his pride and showmanship, Bryant was polarizing. You either loved him and admired him for what he was capable of or you hated him for the damage he did to your favorite basketball team. Either way, everyone has a strong opinion of Kobe, for the better or the worse.