Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat
Kobe Bean Bryant (born August 23, 1978) is an American professional basketball player who plays shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Bryant enjoyed a successful high school basketball career at Lower Merion High School , where he was recognised as the top high school basketball player in the country. He decided to declare his eligibility for the NBA Draught upon graduation, and was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draught by the Charlotte Hornets , then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favourite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest .
Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002 . A heated feud between the duo and a loss in the 2004 NBA Finals was followed by O'Neal's trade from the Lakers after the 2003–04 season. Following his departure Bryant became the cornerstone of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. He led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons, setting numerous scoring records in the process. In 2006, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors , the second most points scored in a single game in NBA history, second only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962. He was awarded the regular season's Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in 2008. After losing in the 2008 NBA Finals , Bryant led the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010 , earning the NBA Finals MVP Award on both occasions.
As of February 2012 , Bryant ranks third and fifth on the league's all-time post-season scoring and all-time regular season scoring lists , respectively. He is also the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. Since his second year in the league, Bryant has started in every NBA All-Star Game that has been held with fourteen All-Star appearances, winning the All-Star MVP Award four times (2002 , 2007 , 2009 , and 2011 ). Bryant is tied for the most All Star MVP Awards in NBA History. He is a thirteen-time member of the All-NBA team and an eleven-time member of the All-Defensive team; he is also the youngest player ever to receive defensive honours. At the 2008 Olympics , he won a gold medal as a member of the USA national team . In 2009, Sporting News and TNT named Bryant the top NBA player of the 2000s decade.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of assault after having with a hotel employee in Colorado . In September 2004, prosecutors dropped the case after his accuser refused to testify. A civil suit was later filed and settled out of court.
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