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Remembering a legend: 10 iconic photos from Kobe Bryant’s career

To the photographers able to capture photos of Kobe Bryant throughout his illustrious career over the years, thank you. It is because of you that we have iconic and powerful photos of Kobe Bryant to remember him by, both on and off the basketball court.

Much of my family derives from Philadelphia and neighboring East Coast areas. The farthest back that I can remember is the first time my feet touched the ocean at age three in Avalon, NJ.

When I sat down with my grandparents to watch the 2001 NBA Finals (76ers versus Lakers), my family swore up and down how the 6ers and A.I. would triumph.

Unbeknownst to them, there was a guy on the other side of the court with the basketball named Kobe Bean Bryant. Remembering Kobe Bryant is one of the best things we can do whenever we need motivation and clarity.

Let us now reminisce and bask in the glory of the legendary ‘Black Mamba’ through this collection of wondrous imagery.

Remembering young Kobe Bryant at the tip of his career

Kobe Bryant photographed by Jon SooHoo during a portrait session outside of The Forum in Inglewood, CA – 1997

“Green and inexperienced, dreaming about that chariot.”

Capital Steez – Dead Prez

Making the leap from high school to the league is quite the feat. Kobe welcomed the challenge in stride and set his sights on the upper echelon from day one.

Remembering Kobe Bryant means remembering him before reaching the height of his powers. The star-eyed youngster intent on being great.

Reading the paper, Kobe clearly disapproves of what he sees

Kobe Bryant photographed by Andrew D. Bernstein while reading the paper prior to playing the New Jersey Nets during the 2002 NBA Finals in Los Angeles, CA – June 01, 2002

The satirical caricature of Kobe’s domineering comrade, Shaquille O’Neal does not even measure up to his waistline. Why poke a bear? Kobe gives us his best Cam’ron impression in this flick in contemplation along the lines of, “Sure. Add fuel to this Mamba fire. My play will do the talkin.'”

Star-studded lovers Kobe and Vanessa Bryant in the early years of their relationship

Vanessa Bryant & Kobe Bryant photographed by Andrew D. Bernstein while arriving home after defeating the 76ers during Game Five of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles, CA – June 16, 2001

“Am I wrong? I want my bouquet when I can smell it”

(Legend – Benny the Butcher)

An undying passion for the game and commitment to excellence flowed through every vein of Kobe’s body. One can only imagine the amount of love and devotion Kobe showed to those with whom he surrounded himself, inside and outside of basketball.

We remember Kobe Bryant in his efforts off the court just as much as we do those on it.

A beautiful father-son duo, Kobe always respected and appreciated his pops

Kobe Bryant & his father Joseph Bryant photographed by Nathaniel S. Butler while in the locker room before a game against the 76ers in Philadelphia, PA – November 26, 1996

Kobe’s hunger transcended generations. He was one of the few athletes with the caliber to jump straight from high school to the NBA.

Some people know their calling from a young age and KBB was clearly of a different elk since conception.

Shaq and Kobe always had a contentious relationship, but there was always love there

Kobe Bryant & Shaq’s father Phillip Harrison photographed by Andrew D. Bernstein before a game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA – 2000

Kobe was a family man through and through. He yearned to discover every single detail and aspect about the game of basketball.

That crossed over to relationships as he wanted to know every single thing about those around him in order to better himself and advance relations in the utmost.

So even though Shaq and Kobe feuded, this photo of Kobe Bryant and Shaq’s dad reminds us that there was a lot of love on display still.

Before the rings, Shaq and Kobe had a lot to prove, together

Shaquille O’Neal & Kobe Bryant photographed by John W. McDonough while playing against the Houston Rockets in Inglewood, CA – May 09, 1999

The rift between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in their basketball endeavors was well-documented in their careers. When you get two competitive behemoths of that magnitude, it is difficult to have everything flow perfectly.

Regardless, their off-the-court disagreements never spilled over onto the court. As genuine basketball connoisseurs, that is all we can ask for.

After the first ring, this candid photo shows the pride both Kobe and Shaq felt

LOS ANGELES – JUNE 19: Shaquille O’Neal #34 and Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers pose for a photo after winning the NBA Championship on June 19, 2000 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2000 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Clearly, the rings can do the talking. Not only that, but the sheer gaudy statistics speak volumes of these two players’ capabilities.

Call them what you want – never call them for fronts. These two men are legends.

Perhaps one of the most famous photos of his career, Kobe takes a second to take the moment in

Kobe Bryant photographed by Andrew D. Bernstein after defeating the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Five of the NBA Finals in Philadelphia, PA – June 15, 2001

Exhausted, spent, worn. Kobe poured his heart and soul into every bounce of the Spalding.

An individual to truly admire for his wondrous deeds on and off of the court, these photos of Kobe Bryant keep us inspired. Greatness personified.

The ultimate competitors: Kobe vs. A.I.

PHILADELPHIA – FEBRUARY 20: Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stand during a game played on February 20, 2000 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1993 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

If you were there, you attended the closest thing to heaven’s entrance. Night in and night out during their careers, Kobe and A.I. spoiled us with their incredibly gifted outputs.

When Kobe fatefully passed on this day last year, A.I. was one of his many contemporaries to speak out on his love and respect for the Mamba.

“Greatness needs company, and we needed each other. Mike needed Prince like Prince needed Mike.”

Allen Iverson in The Players’ Tribune

One of the most famous photos of Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson: The two biggest Laker legends of all time

Kobe Bryant & Magic Johnson photographed by Walter Looss Jr. during a portrait session for Sports Illustrated in Los Angeles, CA – April 01, 1998

Voila, Magic! Not only did Kobe put on for the entire state of California, he commanded attention, globally.

Together with Lakers’ legends, Kobe had massive plans to continue to bolster the identity and elite functionality of the Los Angeles Lakers organization.

The magnum opus of Kobe Bryant photos: Kobe and Mike, teacher and mentor

Michael Jordan & Kobe Bryant photographed by Andrew D. Bernstein during a game at The Forum in Inglewood, CA – February 01, 1998

There is no denying the fact that to be the man you have to beat the man. With careful craft and rigorous preparation Kobe molded his game ever so closely to that of Michael Jordan.

Kobe Bryant’s basketball prowess is what got MJ’s attention. But it was his work ethic and killer mentality that truly attracted Mike to Bean. And MJ spoke reverently about Kobe at his memorial in 2020.

“Kobe was my dear friend, he was like a little brother. When Kobe died, a little piece of me died.”

Michael Jordan

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