How Many Championships Does Kobe Bryant Have?
Kobe Bryant was one of the best players to ever play in the NBA and was one of basketball’s most prolific scorers, currently ranking fourth in all-time points scored. Over the course of his twenty-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996 to 2016, he was a five-time NBA champion. Read on to learn more about each of his five championships, each one making its own mark in NBA history.
First Championship: 1999-2000 Season
Kobe Bryant’s first championship in the NBA came during the 1999-2000 season. This was an important season in Kobe’s career, as it was the first season he had Phil Jackson as his head coach. Jackson had previously taken a one-year hiatus after coaching a legendary Chicago Bulls team that featured Michael Jordan. The 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers were headlined by Kobe Bryant, who averaged 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game, and Shaquille O’Neal, who averaged 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. In the Finals, the Lakers, who had a regular season record of 67-15, faced off against the Indiana Pacers, who were led by Reggie Miller, one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time. The Lakers were able to win the finals after six games, winning the series 4-2.
Back-to-Back: 2000-2001 Season
Kobe Bryant, who increased his scoring averages to 28.5 points per game in the 2000-2001 season, really began to solidify his position as one of the best players in the league. Along with teammate Shaquille O’Neal, who averaged 28.7 points per game with 12.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks, Kobe Bryant helped his team to a regular season record of 56 wins and 26 losses. In the Finals, they were matched up against the Philadelphia 76ers, who were led by league MVP Allen Iverson. This time, the Lakers were able to win the series in five games, beating the 76ers 4-1. By doing so, they became the ninth team in NBA history to repeat as NBA champions.
Three-Peat: 2001-2002 Season
With the powerful tag-team duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the Los Angeles Lakers continued their dominant run in the NBA and finished the 2001-2002 season with a record of 58 wins and 24 losses. After winning two championships in his six years in the NBA, Kobe Bryant continued his run of excellence and finished the season with an average of 25.2 points per game. The opponents for the Lakers in the 2002 NBA Finals were the New Jersey Nets, who were led by Jason Kidd, an all-time great greatest point guard who currently ranks second in all-time assists. The Nets proved to be no match for the Lakers as they were swept, losing the series 4-0. By winning his third championship, Kobe Bryant and the 2001-2002 Lakers became the fifth team in NBA history to “three-peat,” or win three consecutive championships.
Back on Top: 2008-2009 Season
After a falling out with teammate Shaquille O’Neal, which resulted in O’Neal being traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers underwent a difficult period that marked a stark contrast from their earlier championship-winning years. However, with the addition of all-star forward Pau Gasol, who was acquired in a trade during the 2007-2008 season, the Lakers were able to make a return to the NBA Finals in 2008, which unfortunately ended with a 4-2 series loss to the Boston Celtics.
With more time to get adjusted to each other’s playing styles and tendencies, the new duo of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were able to lead the Lakers to a 65-17 regular season record in the 2008-2009 season and make another appearance in the NBA Finals. In the 2009 NBA Finals, the Lakers faced off against the Orlando Magic, who were led by center Dwight Howard, that season’s Defensive Player of the Year. The Lakers defeated the Magic in five games, winning the series 4-1. Along with this fourth championship, Kobe Bryant won his first Finals MVP award after averaging 32.4 points per game in the series.
Fifth Championship: 2009-2010 Season
In his fourteenth season, Kobe Bryant did not show signs of slowing down and continued his reign of dominance. He finished the 2009-2010 season averaging 27 points per game and led the Lakers to a regular season record of 57-25. With the Lakers developing team chemistry around their new duo of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, they were able to return to the NBA Finals after winning the championship the previous season, giving them the opportunity to become the tenth team in NBA history to repeat as NBA champions. In the 2010 NBA Finals, the Lakers had an opportunity to avenge their 2008 NBA Finals loss by facing off against their rivals, the Boston Celtics. With an average of 28.6 points per game, Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to a 4-3 series win, and in doing so, he also won his fifth NBA Championship and second Finals MVP award.