The 2001 Los Angeles Lakers’ postseason run was arguably the most dominant in history as they went 15-1 to get the middle title of their three-peat. During that run, Kobe Bryant had one of the best playoff performances of his career, scoring 48 points on May 13 to finish off the sweep of the Sacramento Kings.
Bryant’s numbers for the game were crazy, as he added 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. He was 15-of-19 from the field, hit his only three-point attempt and drained 17 of his 19 free throws. His true shooting percentage was 64.2.
But the most impressive number might have been minutes played: 48:00.
Kobe was chipping away at the Kings the whole game, and chirping away at their egos. He relentlessly went to the rim, scrapped with everyone in sight, talked smack and was full-blown Mamba that night. The Lakers and Kings of that era were a huge rivalry, and it was as if Bryant was on a personal mission to send them home.
There’s a historical misconception that suggests Shaquille O’Neal “carried” Kobe to his first three titles, but while Shaq was the best player on those teams, Bryant carried more than his fair share of the weight. And the 2001 season is probably where it became more of a 1A and 1B situation than a first versus second-best scenario.
Just check out this game as a prime example.
Kelly is a TBW co-Founder and frequent contributor. He spent 4.5 years in the USAF before attending University of Minnesota, Bible college in Anaheim and 15 years in youth ministry. Basketball blogger-turned-NBA Featured Columnist with Bleacher Report, BBallBreakdown, Fansided, The Step Back, Hoops Habit, SportsNet, Vantage Sports, Dime and FanRag, among others, his work has been read over 25 million times. The former NBA Assistant Editor at FanRag (2016-18), he is an NBA Twitter staple who is well-connected and respected among today’s finest basketball writers.