24 November 2020

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Kobe’s Fabulous Five: The 2000 NBA Championship

Throughout Kobe’s magnificent 20 year career, he managed to win 5 championships with 2 finals MVP’S. As we mourn the death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, we also look back on the significant impact Kobe made on the great game of basketball. With that being said, we will now look at Kobe’s first championship experience in the 2000 NBA playoffs.

In 2000 the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Shaquille O’Neal at the time, dominated the 1999-2000 NBA season, finishing with a record of 67-15 and a win percentage of .817.

  • Division Finals: Los Angeles Lakers defeat Sacramento Kings [3-2]

In the division finals, the Los Angeles Lakers met the Sacramento Kings. The 8th seeded Kings were not expected to win more than one game, and although that turned out to be false as they won 2 games, they were no match for the Lakers.

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Although Shaquille O’Neal was the Lakers first option as he averaged 29.4 points, 17.4 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks throughout the series, Kobe Bryant was nothing shy of spectacular and the Lakers definitely couldn’t have won this series without him.

Series Stats:

27.8 PTS | 4.4 RPG | 3.6 APG | 1.2 STL | 49.6 FG %

  • Western Conference Semi-Finals: Los Angeles Lakers defeat Phoenix Suns [4-1]

In the second round of the playoffs (Western Conference Semi-finals) the Los Angeles Lakers matched up against the 5th seeded Phoenix Suns led by Penny Hardaway, and Jason Kidd.

Although the Suns looked to be a better stylistic matchup for the Lakers, they struggled to win only one game. Shaquille O’Neal once again was the driving force, averaging 30.2 points, 16.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks to seal the series and take the Lakers to the western conference finals.

Series Stats:

21.0 PTS | 3.8 RPG | 3.4 APG | 2.0 STL | 45.2 FG%

  • Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Lakers defeat Portland Trail Blazers [4-3]

The Lakers steamrolled the first two teams they matched up against, but that wouldn’t be the case with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Portland Trail Blazers led by Rasheed Wallace looked to be just another matchup for the offensive powerhouse in the Los Angeles Lakers, but little did they know this would be their biggest test yet.

The Los Angeles Lakers would quickly take a 3-1 series lead, but the Blazers wouldn’t stop there as they would come up with huge wins in games 5 and 6 to keep the series alive. Game 7 would be a close one and one that we still remember to this day because of it’s significance. Game 7 was rather quiet for Shaquille O’Neal scoring only 18 points which would force Kobe Bryant to take over, racking up 25 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 blocks to take the Lakers to the NBA finals.

The Lakers would now find themselves in the 2000 NBA finals, where Kobe Bryant & Shaquille O’Neal would look to earn their first NBA championships.

The Lakers would find themselves matched up against a star-studded Pacers team that finished as the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers roster included notable names such as Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Jalen Rose, and Austin Croshere.

Game 1:

The Lakers would open up the series with a huge 104-87 win, including a 43 point, 19 rebound night from Shaquille O’Neal, as Pacers star Reggie Miller struggled with shooting as he shot only 1-16 from the field.

Kobe Bryant’s Statistics:

14 PTS | 5 AST | 3 REB | 2 BLK | 1 STL | 6-13 FG

Game 2:

The Indiana Pacers continued to struggle, as they went down 0-2 against the Lakers due to a 40 point, 24 rebound outing from Shaquille O’Neal, of course.

Despite the win, Kobe Bryant exited the game only 9 minutes in do to a tragic ankle sprain.

Kobe Bryant Statistics:

2 PTS | 4 AST | 1 REB | 1 BLK | 1-3 FG

Game 3:

Although Shaq continued to dominate on both sides of the floor, with 33 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, they clearly missed Kobe Bryant’s presence on the floor.

Game 4:

Kobe Bryant would return after sitting out only one game to help his team take a 3-1 series lead over the Indiana Pacers.

Shaquille O’Neal would continue his dominant play with 36 points, 21 rebounds, and 2 blocks, however, Kobe would be the difference-maker in this game showcasing his dominance on both sides of the ball.

Kobe Bryant Statistics:

28 PTS | 5 AST | 4 REB | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 14-27 FG

Game 5:

The struggling Indiana Pacers were put in a do or die situation. However, they executed and forced a game 6 after a 120-87 win over the Lakers in game 5.

Shaq did all he could however, Kobe Bryant struggled shooting only 4-20. Jalen Rose played his heart out scoring 32 points on 12-18 shooting to keep the Pacers in the series.

Kobe Bryant Statistics:

8 PTS | 5 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 4-20 FG

Game 6:

Despite Kobe Bryant’s struggles on the offensive end, he and Shaquille O’Neal managed to secure their first NBA title in game 6 of the 2000 NBA finals with a 116-111 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Shaquille O’Neal continued in his dominant ways scoring 40 points, as well as grabbing 12 rebounds to take home the finals MVP for the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant Statistics:

26 PTS | 10 REB | 4 AST | 2 BLK | 1 STL | 8-27 FG

Despite Kobe’s inconsistencies especially on the offensive end throughout the 2000 NBA playoffs, he was young. This was Kobe’s first-ever championship and he would only become smarter and more knowledgeable as he kept winning.

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