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Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant, born August 23rd 1978, is an American, All-Star basketball shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers Franchise of the National Basketball Association of America. His parents named him after the famous Japanese beef, 'Kobe,' which they saw on a resteraunt menu. His father, was the former Philadelphia 76ers player Joe 'Jelly Bean' Bryant and former Los Angeles Sparks (Women's National Basketball Association of America Franchise) Head Coach. Bryant and former teammate Shaquille O'Neal won three consecutive championships in the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. Following O'Neal's trade to Miami Heat during the 2003-2004 season, Bryant became the the figure in which the franchise revolved around. He scored an amazing 81 points during a game against the Toronto Raptors (second only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100), and outscored the entire Dallas Maverwicks team 62-61, before sitting out the 4th quater. Once he scored over 50 points, 4 consecutive times. During this time, he lead NBA scoring during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons, and won a Most Valuable Player Award. After his rookie year in 1996, he has been an NBA All-Star starting shooting guard every since. In 2008, he was one of the NBA players selected to represent America in the "Redeem Team," during the Beijing Olympics. The "Redeem Team" is a play on words of the "Dream Team" of 1992, which featured NBA greats such as Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. It was to redeem the shameful third place acheived by the 2004 American Olympic Team. With Bryant's help, the "Redeem Team" won the gold over Spain. During the Summer of 2003, prior to major surgery, Kobe Bryant made national headlines when he was accused of sexual assault in the "The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera Hotel" in Edwards, Colorado. The complaint was filed by a nineteen year-old hotel employee Katelyn Fabers, who claimed that Bryant raped her in his room. Law Enforcement Officials interviewed him about the incident, during which Bryant admitted the sexual encounter, but denied that it was rape. =Biography= [[Image:Kobe_highschool_02.jpg|195px|thumb|left|Bryant playing for Lower Merion]]===Early Life and Before NBA=== Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the youngest child and the only son of Joe and Pam Bryant. When he was six, his father left the Nba and the 76ers and moved to Italy to pursue a professional basketball career there. Bryant adapted well to the sudden change and began to speak Italian very fluently. From a young age, Bryant was a big fan of soccer. His favourtie team was AC Milan and his favourtie player was Ronaldinho (while he played for FC Barcelona). He once said that if his family had stayed in Italy, he would have pusued a career as a professional soccer player. In 1991, when Bryant was 13, the Bryants moved back to the United States. Kobe first came under the national spotlight after he had a spectacular career at basketball for Lower Merion High School located in a suburb of Philadelphia. His SAT score of 1080 would have ensured him a basketball scholarship to any college. However, Byant opted instead for the 1996 NBA draft. ===The 1996 NBA Draft=== Bryant was chosen as the 13th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets Franchise.It was considered one of the best selections of all time - Bryant at pick 13, even though a first round pick, was considered a bargin. However, beforehand, Bryant made it clear he would not play for any team except for the Los Angeles Lakers. Arn Tellem, Bryant's agent at the time, said that Bryant playing for Charlotte was an "impossibilty." Even so, the Hornets selected Bryant in hope for a good trade with the Lakers. On July the 1st, in the same year, the then Los Angeles General Manager traded their starting centre, Vlade Divac, to the Hornets for Bryant. This was considered one of the worst trades ever for the Hornets. Vlade Divac was considered second to none at flopping, and his career has been no where near as highlighted as Bryant's. [[Image:Kobe2.jpg|frame|Kobe holding Dunk Contest Trophy]]===Rise to Stardom=== During his rookie season, Bryant came off the bench for the Lakers' starting guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. As the season progressed, Bryant began to see more and more playing time, during which he made himself a reputation as an amazing shooter and a player with a great leap. In 1997 he became a fan favourite by winning the Slam Dunk Contest during the All-Star Weekend. In his second season, Bryant received even more minutes and began to show even more glimpses of the guard which he would become. He was runner-up in the NBA Sixth-man Award, and through fan voting, became the starting shooting guard for the West in the 1997 All-Star Game. The 1998-1999 season, Kobe's 3rd, was his breakthrough season as guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel were traded away. Howvever, the Lakers still did not make it past the Play-Off Semi-finals againts the Spurs. These three years saw Bryant steadily improving. During his rookie season, he averaged a mere 7.6 points, 1.3 assists and 1.9 rebounds for the season. In his third season, his statistics improved to 19.9 points, 3.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. ===The Years of Glory=== In 1999, the Lakers signed Phil Jackson, the former head coach of the Chicago Bulls as the head coach. Under him, Bryant flourished and transformed into one of the premier shooting guards of the entire NBA. That year, he was selected into the All-NBA, All-Star and All-Defensive teams. With Jackson at the helm, the Los Angeles Lakers became genuine Championship contenders with Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal forming one of the most powerful center-guard combination in the league. Jackson utilized his triangle-offense, which he used to win six championships with the Bulls, and Lakers won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. During the 2000 play-offs, the Lakers lost just one game. Jackson helped both Bryant and O'Neal become two of the elite players in the NBA. During this time, Kobe's statistics, steadily improved year by year. By the 2001-2002, Bryant was averageing 25.2 points, 5.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game. [[Image:040529_kobe_shaq_vmed_widec.jpg|left|thumb|Kobe and Shaq]]===Post Championship Era=== The 2002-2003 season marked the highpoint of Bryant's career so far. For the whole season, he averaged 30 points every game and had a an unbeleiveable, historic run in which he scored more than 40 points nine games in a row. Also. he averaged 6.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, all personal bests so far in his career. Because of this, he was voted into the All-NBA and All-Devensive 1st teams for the first time. Despite Bryant and O'Neal's efforts, the Lakers finished with a helthy 50-32 record, but were described as a 'wreck' by ESPN commentator David Alridge, in the last game of a six game semi-final series against Duncan's San Antonio Spurs, the eventual champions. Bryant went badly in the Most Valuable Player Award and Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves won after breaking 11 single season franchise records and averaging a double-double. The next season, the Lakers signed All-Stars Gary Payton and Karl Malone (who would later become Hall of Famers, in an attempt to push for another NBA Championship. However, before hte season could start, Bryant was accused of violating a 19-year old hotel employee. Despite Bryant's reputation being torn to shreds, the "Big Four" perservered and made it into the final. The Detroit Pistons beat the in five games. DUring that series, Bryant played terribly, averaging 4.4 assists and an acceptable 22.6 points per game, but only with a 33.5% accuracy. By this time, Bryant had made himself a reputation for not passing the ball enough and being a "ball hog." ===Departure of O'Neal and Controversies=== At the end of the 2003-2004 season, the Lakers traded O'Neal to Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant. Of those three, only Odom still plays for the Lakers. Phil Jackson's contract as head coach was not renewed, and Rudy Tomjanovich was handed the top job. A day later, Bryant rejected an offer from the Los Angeles Clippers, and signed a seven year deal with the Lakers which expires in 2011. Heading into the 2004-2005 season, Bryant was much scrutinized for the events of the previous year. A particularly sharp critisism came from his mentor Phil Jackson's book 'The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul." The book details the Lakers hectic 2003-2004 season and contains many critisisms of Bryant. He described Byant as "uncoachable." Halfway through the season, Rudy Tomjanovich abruptly resigned from his headcoach position due to citing the recurrence of health problems and exhaustion. The career assistant coach of the time, Frank Hamblen, was given the position as head coach. Bryant averaged 27.6points per game, second in the NBA, but the rest of the Lakers floundered the second half of the season and missed the play-offs for the first time in in over a decade. A low point in his career, Bryant was delisted from the All-Defensive team, but managed to crawl into the All-NBA third team. His reputation and overall status dropped significantly in the NBA that year. [[Image:Kobe-scores-81.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Bryant goes for a layup in his 81 point game]]
===Rebuilding 2005-07=== The next year, the Lakers restored former head coach Phil Jackson as their head coach. Depite their past differences, Bryant and Jackson would help lift the Lakers to a 45-37 record - an eleven game improvement from the previous season - and into the playoffs. In the first round, the Lakers lead 3-1 against the Phoenix Suns, and despite Bryant averaging 27.8 points per game for the series, the Lakers sagged the Suns came back to win in a 7 game series. Even so, things would only continue to go uphill for Bryant and the team. In the Off-season, Bryant had major surgery on his knee which sadly prevented him from competeing in the 2006 FIBA World Championships. When the Lakers faced the Miami Heat on January 16, 2006, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal made headlines by engaging in handshakes and hugs before the game, signifying the end of the feud that had festered between the two players since O'Neal's departure from Los Angeles.[citation needed] A month later, at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, the two laughed and joked together on several occasions. That season, Bryant was the leading scorer in the NBA for the first time with an average of 35.4 points per game. On December 20, 2005, Bryant scored 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Entering the fourth quarter, Bryant had, by himself, outscored the entire Mavericks team 62–61, the only time a player has done this through three quarters since the addition of the 24-second shot clock. On January 22 2006, Bryant posted 81 points in a 122–104 pounding of the Toronto Raptors. In that game, Bryant broke Elgin Baylor's 71 point franchise record, and came close to the great Wilt Chamberlain's 100 (which he scored before moving to the Lakers.) Later that month, Bryant shot over 45 points per game four consecutive time, joining Chamberlain and Baylor as the only three players to ever do so. For the entire month of January, Bryant averaged 43.4 points per game - the eighth highest single month scoring average in NBA history and highest for any player other than Chamberlain.Despite all his efforts, Bryant finished fourth in the MVP, but received 22 first place votes, second only to Steve Nash, the eventual winner. Late in the season, Bryant announced that he was going to change his jersey number from 8 to 24. His high school number was 33, but before that it was 24. At then end of the season, on TNT, Bryant said that he wanted 24 as a rookie, but it was unavaiable, as was 33, retired in honour of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. At the Adidas ABCD camp, he wore 143, and he chose number 8 as a rookie by adding those numbers. [[Image:Kobe-bryant-mvp.jpg|350px|thumb|left|Kobe holding MVP trophy]] During the 2006-2007 season, Bryant was voted for the ninth time, into the the All-Star game. Bryant posted 31 points, 6 assists, and 6 steals, earning him his second all-star MVP trophy. Over the course of the season, Bryant was involved in various elbowing incidents from which he was handed 3 one game suspensions. While attempting to draw a foul and shoot a potential game-winning, beat-the-buzzer jump shot on the 28th of January, Bryant elbowed San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in the face. As a result, Bryant was handed a one game suspension after a league review on the basis of an 'unnatural motion'when he swung his arms back. Subsequently, Bryant missed the next game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square. Not long afterwards, on the 6th of March, a similar incident took place. Bryant threw his arms back and struck Minnesota Timberwolves guard Marko Jaric with his elbows. Once again, Bryant spent one game looking on from the sidelines. On the 9th of March, during his first game back from suspension, he reapeated the movement again, this time elbowing Kyle Kover in the face, and causing the NBA to catergorise Bryant's movemetn as a Type-1 flagrant foul. Braynt once again sat out the whole of the next game. After sitting out his one game suspension, on March 16th Bryant came onto the court against the Portland Trailbalzers firing. He scored 65 points- a second best to his 81 point show in Toronto - to end the Lakers' seven game losing streak. Two days later,he posted 50 points against the struggling Minnestoa Timberwolves and during the game after that, he recorded 60 points against the Memphis Grizzlies to become the second Laker to do so since Elgin Baylor,who did it during the December of 1962 and a feat not seen since Michael Jordan, who did it in 1987. The next day, Bryant scored 50 points, and became just the second player to do so, behind Wilt Chamberlain who scored over 50 points in 7 consecutive games - twice. once again that year, Bryant won the scoring title in the NBA. However, in the play-offs, the Lakers were once again eliminated in the first round by the Pheonix Suns. Heading into the season, Bryant's jersey became the best selling jersey in the NBA. Many journalists attributed this to Bryant's number change and his continuing amazing All-Star performances. He had up to then, been voted as a started in every single All-Star game since his rookie season, and has won two All-Star MVP trophies. [[Image:13.jpg|350px|thumb|Bryant dunks form a Gasol alley-opp pass]]===MVP season and The Near Miss=== During the 2007 off-season, ESPN reported that Kobe said he wanted to be traded if Jerry West did not return to The Lakers with complete authority Later, Bryant denied wanting to be traded if it did not occur, but confirmed his wish for West to return. Despite this, another three days later, Kobe publicly stated : " I want to be traded!" He expressed anger over a Lakers "insider" who blamed him for the departure of Shaquille O'Neal. In an interview three hours alter, however, he backed off from his trade demands after a discussion with Laker coach Phil Jackson. Early in the season, on. On December 23 2007, Bryant became the youngest player (29 years, 122 days) to reach 20,000 points, in a game against the New York Knicks, in Madison Square Garden. The Laker's starting centre, Andrew Bynum suffered a serious knee injury which ended his season. The Lakers were with out a decent Big man for a long time, depending on Bryant to almost single-handedly win games. That was until the mid-season arrival of Spanish player Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for a 2010 second round draft pick for Kwame "The Brick" Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights to Marc Gasol (Pau's younger brother), and 2008 and 2010 first round draft picks. For the rest of the season, Gasol played as the starting centre for the Lakers. Despite suffering an injury to the pinkie on his shooting hand during a game on the 5th of Febuary, which was reported "a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament, an avulsion fracture, and a volar plate injury at the MCP joint," Bryant chose to post-pone surgery and started in all 82 games of the regular season.In a Lakers shoot-around video, he said in regards to his injuury I would prefer to delay any surgical procedure until after our Lakers season, and this summer's Olympic Games. But, this is an injury that myself and the Lakers' medical staff will just have to continue to monitor on a day-to-day basis." Kobe lead the Lakers to a 57-25 record and sent them to the finals as the first seed of the West. After destroying the Denver Nuggets, on May 6th, Kobe Bryant was finally announced as the season's MVP, his first MVP Award. When presented with the Award, he stated :"It's been a long ride. I'm very proud to represent this organization, to represent this city." General Manager Jerry West, who was responsible for bringing Bryant to the Lakers in the first place was present at the Award to watch Kobe receive his award. He said :"Kobe deserved it. He's had just another great season. Doesn't surprise me one bit." In addition to winning his MVP award, Bryant was the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA team on May 8, 2008 for the third straight season and sixth time in his career.[69] He would then headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team with Kevin Garnett, receiving 52 points overall including 24 first-place nods, earning his eighth selection. In his MVP season, Bryant averaged 30.1 points, 5.7 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game. Next up in the Laker's run for the Championship were the Utah Jazz. In Game 1, Bryant scored 38 points and the Lakers won the first two games. However the whole team let the next two games slip from their grasps and forced a 6 game series aganst Utah. Lakers did not hold back as they won the next two games, setting them up for a Western Conference Final against the San Antonio Spurs. Bryant and Gasol disposed of the Spurs in six games, and sent themselves to a much anticipated Final agaist the Boston Celtics. However, with no strong powerforward in the team to contain Kevin Garnett, the Lakers lost in six games. ===This season=== After finishing runners-up, and having the reigning MVP, expectations on the Lakers and Bryant were higher than ever. The Lakers' Andrew Bynum was healthy again, and Gasol was moved into the power forward position to solve the problem which the Lakers had against Kevin Garnett. =Personal Life= During the month of November, 1999, Bryant, then aged 21, met Vanessa Laine then aged 17, at a music studio while he was working on his first musical album which was never released, and while she was a background dancer for the Tha Eastsidaz music video "G'd Up". The two began dating and eventually became engaged six months later, while Laine was still studying at high school. To avoid media scrutiny and critisism of Bryant, she finished high school by studying independantly. According to Vanessa's cousin, Laila, the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement. Vanessa said that he simply loved her too much for one. The happy couple married on April 18, 2001 at Dana Point, California. Neither Bryant's parents, his two sisters, longtime advisor and agent Arn Tellem, nor Bryant's Laker teammates attended. Bryant's parents were opposed to the marriage for a number of reasons. Reportedly Bryant's parents had problems with him marrying so young, especially to a woman who was not African-American. This disagreement resulted in an estrangement period of over two years, during which Kobe Bryant did not have any contact with his parents. The Bryants' first child, a daughter named Natalia Diamante Bryant, was born on January 19, 2003. The birth of Natalia influenced Bryant to reconcile his differences with his parents. Vanessa Bryant suffered a miscarriage due to an ectopic pregnancy in the spring of 2005. Their second daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, was born on May 1, 2006. Gianna was born six minutes ahead of former teammate Shaquille O'Neal's daughter Me'arah Sanaa, who was born in Florida.
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