Ranking Kobe Bryant's 10 Greatest Game-Winners
In the history of NBA basketball, if there is one player who approaches the amount of certainty Michael Jordan gave a team of winning a close game, it has to be Kobe Bryant. There have been others through the course of history: we must never forget the assassin that Larry Bird was, nor can we ignore the exploits of Reggie Miller.
Also read: Top 10 Regular season scorers in NBA History
But among players who had to carry their teams through close games consistently without much help (Kobe never got another player of his caliber to play with him after Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Heat), Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are of their own ilk. Larry Bird played a large part of his career with one of the greatest power forwards ever to play in Kevin McHale (not to mention center Robert Parish), so it wasn't like he didn't have help to close out clutch games.
Over the course of his career, Kobe hit a whopping 36 game-winners, including free throws. This excludes a number of daggers he buried in his opponents' hearts during the rest of clutch time - which would probably take the number into 3 digits.
Ranking the eligible field goals into a top 10 is an uphill task, because no matter whatever criterion we apply here, there are too many amazing plays being left out of this list. And yet, we make our best attempts to bring an ordered compilation of the very best shots buried by the Black Mamba in clutch time.
The list is ranked on 3 parameters:
(a) The difficulty of the shot in question (though of course, there were no 'difficult' shots as such for the Mamba)
(b) The ability of the primary defender(s) guarding him
(c) The stakes of the match in question
Note: A couple of our games have 2 ridiculous shots by Kobe, which we're clubbing together.
Without further ado, here goes our list of the top 10 greatest game-winners hit by Kobe:
#10 vs the Denver Nuggets, regular season 2003-04, 19th December 2003
One of Kobe's greatest ever clutch shots came in the midst of a tumultuous 2003-04 season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Embroiled at the heart of the sexual assault case that sent many sponsors scurrying away from him, Kobe came into this game as a substitute - having missed the pre-game warmups and tipoff due to the legal process relating to the case itself.
He did not have a great game all-in-all either, making only 4 of the 13 field goals he attempted before this, and ending it with a +/- of -4. The L, however, went to the Denver Nuggets, as Mamba knocked down the game-winner in the face of Andre Miller and Jon Barry from just inside the 3-point line.