Five of Kobe Bryant's clutchest moments in the NBA

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It's only been four months since Kobe Bryant retired from basketball, but he is already missed by fans from across the NBA, especially those that wear Purple and Gold. 

The five-time champion, 2008 MVP, 18-time All-Star and two-time finals MVP was a player who goes alongside the likes of Michael Jordan and LeBron James in terms of individual brilliance. 

He made a name for himself as a clutch performer, and on his 38th birthday, we take a look back at five of clutchest moments he produced during his time with the L.A. Lakers.

vs. Miami Heat (2009 regular season)

This came during L.A.'s battles with the pre-LeBron James Miami Heat. 

As they went in search of a second successive title, the Lakers made a strong start to the 2009-10 campaign and Bryant made a habit of coming up clutch as he won his fifth and final championship. 

His most outstanding play of the season came at the final buzzer of a home game against Miami. With the Lakers two down with 3.2 seconds to go, the Mamba received the inbound and banked in an incredible three under intense pressure from Dwyane Wade.


vs. Phoenix Suns (2000 WC SF)

What was probably the first game-winner in Bryant's career, and an early sign of things to come for the Phoenix Suns.

At just 21 years of age, the young shooting guard was handed the ball at the clutch during game two of the 2000 Western Conference semifinals. Bryant sized up Jason Kidd, who was in the prime of his career at this point, attacked the right, crossed to left and pulled up.

The Suns guard's defence was incredible throughout the whole play, but it made no difference, L.A. took a 97-96 lead with 2.6 seconds to go and ended up going 2-0 up in the series.


vs. San Antonio Spurs (2002 WC SF)

This one was not a jump shot, but it was a play that exemplified everything the Mamba stood for throughout his career. 

During the 2002 Western Conference semifinals, the City of Angels franchise held a 2-1 lead over the Spurs heading into game four at the AT&T Center. With the game tied at 85-85, Derek Fisher missed a jumper with just over eight seconds to go.

And then Bryant took over. Out of nowhere, Kobe appeared in the lane, pulled down a one-handed rebound and put it in with 5.1 seconds to play. The Lakers held on and ended up winning the series.


vs. Phoenix Suns (2006 WC R1)

Two clutch plays by Bryant turned this 2006 Western Conference first round tie on its head as the seventh seed Lakers beat the second-ranked Suns. 

Phoenix were up by two with 7.9 seconds left in regulation; Steve Nash was stripped of the ball by Smush Parker, it eventually made its way to the shooting guard, who produced a looping layup to take the game to overtime.

In the extra period, Luke Walton forced a jump ball with Nash - the Suns were up one with 6.1 remaining - he won the tip, Bryant advanced down the court and pulled up for a mid-range two at the final buzzer. 


vs. Detroit Pistons

In the grand scheme of things, this play counted for very little, but at the time it looked like the catalyst for the 2004 finals series to turn on its head. 

The Lakers were 1-0 down in the series and trailing by three in the final seconds of game two. Bryant sized up Richard Hamilton, let go from behind the three-point line and levelled the game to take it to overtime. 

In OT, he continued his rich run of form, scoring two more buckets and providing two more for Shaquille O'Neal as the Lakers were victorious. Despite the win, Detroit would finish the series at 4-1.


Western Conference
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
Kobe Bryant

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