Monday, August 12, 2013

Top 20 Kobe Bryant Photos

When you are a fan of someone, stuff associated with him or her, no matter how mundane, gains your interest.  Like photos.

I am a Kobe Bryant fan, and here are my 20 favorite photos of him (not from screen shots and not ‘shopped), picked from a pool of about 40 photos:

20.) MERCIFUL TO THE ENEMY


I can’t remember when this happened.  Fighting the Lakers’ mortal enemies, the Celtics, you would expect Kobe to ruthlessly annihilate them.  So it’s a bit weird seeing him help Rajon Rondo up.  Still, I like this photo since it’s weirdly out of character of Kobe, who is a cold-hearted assassin in the basketball court: showing niceness to a Celitc!      

19.) MVP (MOST VALUABLE PIANIST)


This picture was posted by Kobe in his twitter account.  According to him, he taught himself how to play “Moonlight Sonata” by ear!  As a Kobe fan (and as a self-taught, amateur musician myself), learning that he had thought himself to play the piano came as a delightful surprise to me because this added another interesting dimension to my hero’s already fascinating personality.   

18.) CHALLENGING JORDAN AND PIPPEN SIMULTANEOUSLY


Young Kobe driving against Jordan and Pippen, two of the greatest defenders in history, is pretty epic.   

17.) LOCKDOWN


In the past, up until two or three ago, Kobe Bryant has consistently been one of the greatest defenders in the league.  It’s pretty amazing that before Ron Artest joined the Lakers, Kobe had been guarding the opposing teams’ best perimeter player every night while also being the Lakers’ main offensive option!  Kobe’s intense and suffocating lockdown D has awed me a lot and inspired me to love the defensive aspect of the game. 

This photo is my most favorite photo of Kobe in a defensive stance – coolly, focusing on his mark and the ball.  

16.) WORLD’S FINEST


Looking at this photo, it’s as if the feud between them never happened.  With this wacky pose, it appears as if they were the closest of pals.

I consider Kobe and Shaq as the greatest duo in NBA history.  Yes, even greater than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.  While Pippen played the sidekick to Jordan, there was never a sidekick figure in the tandem of Kobe and Shaq – they share equal standing of “hero” status.  MJ and Scottie had a “Batman and Robin” relationship, while Kobe and Shaq were more of a “Batman and Superman” team-up, the so-called “World’s Finest.”     

15.) “SUPER TEAMS”


The Lakers’ consistent capability of assembling a “super team” – having an ensemble of several All-Star/Superstar caliber players – is pretty cool.  And the pictorials of a Laker “super team” after its off-season formation never fail to make me excited for that upcoming season. 

Kobe has been part of three Laker “super teams.”  None, unfortunately, ever won a championship.  

14.) COACH KOBE


This is the photo of an injured, sidelined Kobe that convincingly illustrated to me that he should be a coach someday because he looks fantastic in a suit by the sidelines.       

Here’s another cool photo of Kobe being “coach-like”:
13.) NEVER BACK DOWN


I can’t remember when was this.  But it’s pretty awesome and funny.  A play finds Kobe switching to guard the 7’5 Yao Ming, but Kobe appears to be unyielding, despite finding himself in a mismatch. But that’s just Kobe for you – never backing down even in the face of big challenges. 

I don’t know what’s the result of this play.  It’s likely that Yao successfully posted up and scored.  But I won’t be surprised if what happened was actually the other way around, that Kobe had been able to hold his ground and made Yao miss his shot. 

12.) MIB (MAMBA IN BLACK)


An argument can be made from this photo of the awesomeness of an alternate black Laker jersey.  They could use the black jersey on Friday road games, as what the alternate white jerseys are during Sunday home games.  Lakers’ promotion can hype it as “Black Fridays.”  Lakers management, please make it happen soon.   

11.) THRILLING GAMEWINNER OVER D-WADE


During the 2009-2010 NBA season, Kobe hit six clutch gamewinners.  The first was during the Lakers’ December 4, 2009 meeting with the Miami Heat.  With 3.2 seconds left, the Heat had a two point lead.  On the Lakers’ last play, Artest inbounded the ball to Kobe.  D-Wade put good defensive pressure on him.  Kobe dribbled a bit and then shot a tough three-pointer over D-Wade.  The ball would bunk in on the buzzer.  It was such a beautiful, thrilling sequence.  
 
The photo above fantastically captures that moment when Kobe was about to shoot.  Notice Kobe’s elevation.  Notice his pretty shooting form.  And notice the slithering tongue of the Black Mamba.          

10.) FIRST FINALS MVP


Shaq would win every Finals MVP award of Kobe’s first three championship experiences.   But with his fourth championship (something he won without Shaq), Kobe would finally win the Finals MVP for the first time.  He rendered an electrifying image of triumph when he raised his Finals MVP trophy and the Larry O’ Brien championship trophy at the same time above his head. 

9.) MASKED MAMBA


In the 2012 All-Star Game, Dwayne Wade broke Kobe’s nose after a hard foul.  That required Kobe to wear a face mask.  He looked so awesome in it that I was almost sad to see it go.  Above is what I think as the most badass photo of Masked Mamba.     

Trivia: The Lakers’ only victory over LeBron’s Heat was when Kobe was the Masked Mamba (the record, at this point, sits at 1-5).         

8.) MY FIRST KOBE POSTER


It’s long gone now.  But this was the photo of my first Kobe poster, which features Kobe’s dynamic athleticism during his younger years.   

7.) KOBE WELCOMES DWIGHT TO THE LEAGUE


Kobe’s welcome present to the rookie Dwight Howard was a thunderous facial.  That dunk is one of Kobe’s most famous dunks in his career.  It’s not his greatest dunk nor is my most favorite.  But the photo of it is so awesome, totally capturing the nastiness, that it’s my most favorite photo of Kobe dunking on someone.  The more popular photo of the dunk is the one taken from the baseline’s perspective.  But I like the bird’s eye photo more because, for me, it emphasized the damage done.              

6.) PASSING OF THE TORCH


This is my most favorite photo of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, who is considered the best player that ever played the game.  Kobe has significantly patterned his game to Jordan, and admitted as much that he had looked up to him

In this photo, Kobe was in his second year in the NBA and Mike is in his final season (as a Bull).  I like this because this gives us another illustration of Kobe’s competitive and intense personality.  Kobe, even while still young, doesn’t shy away from taking opportunities of greatness, even boldly challenging  Michael “God of Basketball” Jordan himself.  Kobe didn’t want the torch to be merely passed to him, he wanted to take it.  And though Kobe hasn’t surpassed Jordan’s greatness, Kobe has earned the honor of being part of the few that are in the same pedestal of greatness where Jordan belongs.  Just as Jordan had been the best player of 90’s, Kobe would succeed in being recognized as the best player of the following decade (the 2000’s).         
There’s another photo of Kobe matching up with Jordan in another game that season – which was on the Bulls’ floor.  But I like the photo above more, the game on the Lakers’ home court, because the Lakers won in it while they lost in the other one.   

5.) BEST MVP PHOTO


This is a very heartwarming photo of Kobe with his wife and kids.  I love how this photo implies that when Kobe won his MVP award, the first thing on his mind, the first thing he wants to share it with, was his family. 

That charm of the photo above is magnified when you consider this other photo:

I’m sure every Laker and Kobe fan in the planet had been ecstatic when Kobe won his MVP award back in 2008.  But Kobe’s “number one fans” – his family – had been probably more so.    

4.) WHAT YOU LOVE AND HATE ABOUT KOBE


On a Christmas game against the Bulls, with the Bulls leading by one, the Lakers had a chance to take a gamewinning shot.  As expected, the Lakers went to Kobe to make things happen.  Kobe drove, and four Bulls players enclosed on him!  Kobe took a close-range shot, but was blocked. Lakers lost.  That is the story of this photo.
      
It summarizes what one would probably love and hate about Kobe.  One could criticize Kobe as too selfish, costing his team a win because of his tendency to take ill-advised shots, just like that one against the Bulls.  Teams understand what Kobe can do.  He’s so dangerous that he can singlehandedly overwhelm them offensively.  He commands so much respect that opposing teams are willing to double, triple, or even quadruple him to stop him from scoring.  But (more often than not) Kobe would still decide in taking that difficult shot in a tight crowd of defenders rather than opting for a pass to a teammate that has been left open.  That frustrates us. 

But, in another light, that actually what makes us love Kobe.  He is fearless.  He embraces pressure.  He doesn’t care of future consequences.  What only matters to him is the present.  He is not bothered by the backlash he would receive if he misses an important shot (or if he takes too many shots).  He will shoot no matter what because it will bother him more if he didn’t shoot on a particular critical “moment of truth” scenario.  He doesn’t want to think of “what ifs” in the future.  Whether he makes it or misses it, what is important to him is he tried.  And that attitude is worth admiring.                  

Those two aspects of Kobe – negative and positive – are perfectly demonstrated in this photo. 

3.) THE “KING” BOWS DOWN TO THE “KING OF KINGS”


Totally love this photo.  Kobe is just helping LeBron get to his feet, but it gives the illusion of LeBron humbly bowing down to Kobe.  There is no doubt that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA right now.  But this photo has to remind us that there was a time when Kobe has been superior. 

2.) THE GUNSLINGER


One of the most awesome things about Kobe Bryant is, as a basketball competitor, he embodies the quality and intensity of a cold-blooded Wild West gunslinger.  This is the only photo I have ever encountered of him performing the simulation of a gunslinger blowing away the smoke off a smoking barrel.        
 
1.) LEGEND


After winning against Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals, Kobe would proceed towards the announcers’ table, stand on it, face the fans, and simultaneously share and bask in the glory of the moment with the entire Laker Nation.  It was truly magical and electrifying.  When I saw that on TV, I said to myself that the photo of it is going to be epic. 

And I was right.  Ever since I encountered this photo, it has become my most favorite photo of Kobe Bryant, because it depicts him in his most glorious moment.  It defined him as a legend.

Here’s an edited version of the photo.   The edit is simple but it certainly enhanced the beauty and emotion of the photo’s captured moment.

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