Originally posted in October of 2011, we’re revisiting some of our favorite Kobe Bryant content after he became the fifth player to ever score 30,000 points last night.
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Kobe Bryant has maintained his spot as the best basketball player in the world because, even as his nagging injuries pile up and he moves into his 30s, he relies more on his skills and fundamentals than simple athleticism and explosiveness.
Don’t get it mistaken, though: Kobe can still get up every once in a while, even if some analysts and fans talk about his hops like he’s Zydrunas Ilgauskas. So in much of the same line as my 10 Best Basketball Movies, 10 Best Basketball Documentaries, and 10 Best Basketball Books, I decided to try to put together a list of the Black Mamba’s best jams throughout his career.
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10. Windmill in Utah (2001-02)
One of the Kobe’s lesser-known dunks, this one is featured in the NBA Street Series, fittingly a fleeting flash during Bryant’s lone segment in the video. It is also one of my personal favorites; with The Diesel standing by in admiration, Bryant puts down a windmill, contorting his body to the side after a steal. To finish it off, the Mamba flashes the fundamental-loving Utah crowd his guns. Ron Burgundy is in the building.
9. Baseline 360 in Utah (2004-05)
The Lakers were blown out in this game, 104-78, but who really cares? This was back when Kobe’s little wing shuffle was exploding to the rim like a firework in Chris Kaman‘s front yard. In accordance with the times — only one other guy on KB’s team even reached double-digit scoring — Bryant breaks down the whole Utah defense. First, he cleans up a teammate’s mess, and then blows by Andrei Kirilenko, jumping in such a weird position that no one on Utah even attempts to leave the floor. I honestly want to rate this one higher. It is just crazy. (Eds. note: It’s No. 7 on the video below… the original footage was deleted from YouTube.)
8. On Yao Ming (2002-03)
A game during the infamous 40-point game streak, Kobe’s night (52 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) was overshadowed by one play near the end of the third quarter. I could pull out the old clichÃ© of climbing the Great Wall of China. But Kobe didn’t really climb it; he sort of met Yao at the top. I love it as a dunk, but Yao is like the anti-kangaroo. The funny part about this one is that Kobe was dealing with a sore knee at the time. He complained postgame that it was making certain things on the court difficult. Obviously, dunking on giants wasn’t one of them.