Kobe Bean Bryant was drafted 13th overall in the 1996 NBA draft by Charlotte, and immediately traded to the LA Lakers. There, he end up staying throughout his two-decade career. Although his confidence and winning mentality were never in question even in the early days, no one could have expected what was to come from the born in Philadelphia shooting guard. Twenty years later, he is universally regarded as the second best shooting guard of all time, and one of the best scorers to ever lace them up. Due to his kill or be killed attitude, and very much evident hunger on the court, proved over and over on the highest stage, he is nicknamed the Black Mamba, and he truly has become a Laker legend and an overall NBA icon.
Now Kobe’s career is over we have taken an in depth look at our favorite association and icon jerseys ever worn by Kobe Bryant. We have also reviewed two of the most iconic jerseys ever to be worn by Kobe on the basketball court.
Kobe Bryant Association Jersey
Although Kobe himself never intended to change his number 8 jersey which he wore ever since his early playing days in Italy, he decided that the direction the Lakers took in 2004 by trading 3-time finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal required him to do just that. He was now the only superstar on the team, and he had the keys to the franchise in his pocket. All that new pressure required a new Kobe, and with that a new jersey number as well. So he decided to switch it to 24 before the official start of the 2006/07 season. Wearing number 8. he proved he belonged in the league, but now was the time to prove he owned it.
Kobe Bryant Icon Jersey
Asked on why he changed to 24, Kobe said: ‘Physical attributes aren’t there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest. Things evolve. It’s not to say one is better than the other or one’s a better way to be. It’s just growth.’
This wasn’t empty talk as he went on to prove that growth by guiding the Lakers to yet two more titles, this time as an unquestionable leader, and the very best player on the team. The two finals MVP trophies prove just that.
Kobe Bryant All Star Jersey
This particular jersey is the one Kobe wore in the 2004 All-Star game which was held on his court at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February the 15th. The West All-Stars were victorious in this one, with Shaquille O’Neal of the LA Lakers winning the MVP. It’s a traditional red and white jersey with four stars on each of the sides. It has a real old-school look and feel to it. Kobe wore number 8 at the time, and on the back of the jersey is a small Lakers logo which itself is a very nice touch. Since the east-west format has now been changed, this jersey brings a little bit of nostalgia with it as well.
Now let us get to what Kobe achieved in his long and decorated career. Most importantly, he was a 5-time NBA champion (2001,2002,2003,2009,2010). By doing that he managed to tie another Lakers legend, Magic Johnson himself, and he came only one short of his biggest inspiration and role model Michael Jordan. He led the league in scoring two times, and in one of those two years he posted the second highest-scoring output with 81 points, topped only by Wilt Chamberlain’s historic 100. He was the league’s MVP in 2007/08 season, in which he successfully led the team to their first finals appearance since Shaq left. In addition to that, he also represented the Western Conference in All-Star games 15 times, he was a gold medal winner as a part of the legendary “Redeem team”, and he even showed that his serial winner attitude translates out of sports by bringing home an Oscar for his short animated movie “ Dear Basketball”.
The Most Iconic Kobe Bryant Jerseys
Kobe has had a number of iconic jerseys over the years. However, we have narrowed this down to the two iconic jerseys of his NBA career.
The Rookie Year Jersey
This one is legendary because it highlights that even the near perfect careers can start with major difficulties. It is almost unbelievable that one of the all-time greats started his career off with 0 points on his debut, but that is just what he did on November the 3rd, 1996 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Two days later, wearing this exact jersey, he registered his first NBA point in the game against the Knicks which he finished with 1 point in only three minutes of play. Although it definitely wasn’t a perfect start, it showed him what is needed to achieve greatness on the highest level. But what makes this jersey truly memorable is the fact that he won the slam dunk contest that year, and he did so as a rookie in such a dominant way. His confidence, swagger and competitive drive were on show for the first time on a global stage, and he thrived.
The Jersey will also be remembered for one of the most iconic moments of the NBA era, the young apprentice asking for advice from the G.O.A.T, Michael Jordan. Jordan let reporters know what the conversation was about, Kobe asked Jordan ‘How do you know when to do a turnaround jumper’ Jordan informed Bryant that you feel the defence with your legs, then you know what to do.
Final Championship Jersey
He wore this particular jersey during arguably the hardest challenge he ever had to face in the NBA finals showdown with the Boston Celtics team full of superstars. Just 2 years prior to this, the Boston Celtics beat Kobe and the Lakers in the finals in a convincing 4-1 series. The Lakers were clearly inferior in every facet of the game, and even Kobe in his prime was no match for them. In 2010, he got another go at the Celtics. This was a perfect chance for him to show that he made even more improvements, and that he was the best player on the planet at the time LeBron seemingly took that spot for him. The opponent was worthy yet again, but this time there was no quitting in Kobe and the Lakers as they took every punch and eventually prevailed in a game 7 nail-biter. This was arguably the best and most intense NBA finals of all time, and he was ultimately the one crowned MVP.