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Some memorable Kobe moments

Matt Slocum/AP (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

APRIL 14 (or April 13 in America) is Mamba Day, the day Kobe Bryant will play his last NBA game. Who would have thought it has been 20 years since "The Black Mamba" began his NBA career (and I was just eight years old then)? So in this tribute Game Analysis post, let's reminisce some of Kobe's finest moments.

1. The 12 Treys Game
Bryant may be known for his rim-rattling slams, daredevil hangtime moves, and the fadeaways that look similar to those of Michael Jordan, but what made Kobe a better version of Mike is that he had a better three-point percentage. He proved that on Jan. 7, 2003 (Philippine Time), when he buried 12 triples against Seattle. He would finish with 45 points in that win. The record would be equalized recently by Steph Curry last February against the same Sonics franchise which now goes by the name Oklahoma City Thunder (Donyell Marshall was the only other guy who dropped 12 three-balls in a game).

2. The Wraparound Slam
I already mentioned that Bryant is known for his dunks. This one is something worth remembering. In a game against Denver, Robert Horry threw a long pass to Bryant, who would wrap the ball around his body to evade the steal and threw the hammer down. Admit it. You're gonna miss this and more.

3. Falling Away
Many think Kobe's fadeaway jumper perfectly resembles that of Michael Jordan. In this 2010 clip of the NBA's weekly recap show NBA Action, some of the players discussed Bryant's trademark play. Do you think it really looks like Mike's?

4. Nine Squared
With his team down at home in a 2006 game against Toronto, Kobe had to carry the Lakers to his own hands. The result: the best single-game scoring performance since 1962. Bryant's 81-point outburst may be the most unforgettable moment for the NBA fans. An honorable mention would be Kobe's 62 points in only three quarters against Dallas.

5. Clutch Moments
Kobe is one player you can trust in the dying moments. Shown above are some of his game-winning shots, some coming against the likes of LeBron James and Yao Ming.

6. Double Nickel vs. Jordan
Another honorable mention to Kobe's 81-point game was a 55-point game in 2003 against Washington. However, this deserves a place in this article because that was the last regular season meeting between Bryant and Jordan. If you consider how Bryant started the game (42 in the first half on eight triples), he may have easily scored more than 81 points and 12 treys. Still, dropping 55 on Jordan was the sign needed to prove that the baton has already been passed.

7. (Updated as of Jan. 27, 2020) "Super" Swan Song
It's kinda saddening to update this right after reports surfaced about Kobe Bryant's fatal helicopter crash. I could have updated this right after he dropped 60 in his farewell game on April 14, 2016, but I failed to do so. Still, Bryant's swan song was one for the ages. No one thought that he will finish his career with a bang as often times, retiring stars get lucky if they score 15 in their final games. But more than the 60-point bomb, Bryant did what Bryant does best: carrying his Lakers to a comeback win over the then playoff-bound Utah Jazz. He then addressed the fans with two words that signified the end of an era: "Mamba out!"

Kobe's NBA career may have finally reached its climax, but the memories will live on. The "next Kobe Bryant" will come, but he may not achieve all the things Bryant got. Simply put, Bryant is a unique kind of an NBA superstar.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno