When people talk about GOAT basketball players, the names of Michael Jordan and LeBron James pop up, but they fail to mention Kobe Bryant in the discussion. Kobe received many awards on the court that speak well of his greatness during his playing career. Altogether the Black Mamba won five NBA rings, a three-peat in 2000, 2001, and 2002 and two Kobe Bryant rings without Shaq in 2009-10.
Since you’re here, read more about Kobe Bryant’s greatness and basketball contributions.
How Many Times Did Kobe Bryant Win an NBA Championship?
Kobe Bryant had five NBA championships wearing the Lakers jersey for 20 seasons. The Black Mamba burst into the scene as an 18-year-old first-round draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers months later. Bryant had a slow start in his rookie and sophomore years before establishing himself as a premier player leading to the Lakers dynasty.
Bryant’s time came following the end of Jordan’s Chicago Bulls era, and the Lakers took Phil Jackson as their head coach. Like with the Bulls’ Jordan and Pippen, Jackson exploited Shaq’s and Kobe’s strengths to be the triangle offense’s focal point. The Lakers won three consecutive NBA championships (2000-02), expressive of Bryant’s first three NBA rings won in the league.
In 2000, the Lakers clashed with the Indiana Pacers in the Finals with the Black Mamba, playing injured, leading the charge to the title in six games. Carrying his deadly form next season, Bryant wore ring number 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers in five games. The Black Mamba became the youngest player to accomplish a three-peat NBA championship in 2002 against the New Jersey Nets. The San Antonio Spurs, coached by Greg Popovich, knocked the Lakers out of a rare four-peat NBA championship.
The Lakers had a championship drought which lasted for six seasons before Shaq was traded to the Miami Heats in 2004. Bryant and the Lakers bounced back with successive championships in 2009 and 2010 against the Orlando Magic in five games and the Boston Celtics in an epic 7-game. The Black Mamba might not be regarded well as the GOAT basketball player, but his name will always crop up in the discussions. Bryant hung his boots in 2016, leaving an everlasting impact with his accolades during his two-decade NBA career endeared by legions of fans. Kobe Bryant signed off in a tragic helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna on January 26, 2020, leaving behind a legacy we’ll never forget
Did Kobe Win a Ring Without Shaq?
There were two Kobe Bryant rings without Shaq O’Neil; his fourth ring came in 2009 and a repeat in 2010. Kobe and Shaq forged an alliance that became the most productive duo in NBA history, winning three successive NBA Championships in eight years (1996-2004) for the Lakers. In the three-peat NBA championship run, Shaq was the NBA Finals MVP in their victories. Bloated egos got the best of them, making them too large to co-exist. It was like Bryant was taking a backseat; without Shaq, the Lakers couldn’t accomplish the feat. Bryant must prove something, and so did Shaq, and it was vital for them to win championships without each other. The quarrel was documented in Phil Jackson’s book, citing the troubles brewing between the two stars during their last season.
In 2004, the toxic relationship was high, and a breakup was imminent; Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat, and Bryant signed a new contract with the Lakers. Many believed the separation between the two was the biggest travesty in sports; as teammates, they would have won more championships.
Which Was Kobe Bryant’s Best Championship?
All told, The Black Mamba wore five NBA rings. So, which ring did Kobe cherish the most? According to Kobe: “When we beat Boston in 2010, for me, that’s number one with a bullet.”
The Lakers were reeling from a defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics (4-2) in the 2007-08 season. Cynics might respond with a sneer, given the noticeable hostility between Shaq and Kobe. But Kobe had reasons for picking his fifth NBA championship to be the most special. Twelve years ago, on June 17, 2010, history was made, and a classic battle between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics took place. The series took the full distance in a winner-take-all Game 7 Finals face-off for the ages. The history of the two great teams was put into context generating the hoopla behind the momentous confrontation.
The Lakers had 16 NBA Championships under their belt, five as the Minneapolis Lakers with George Mikan, recognized as the first NBA superstar; one with Wilt Chamberlain in 1972, five with the showtime duo of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, a three-peat with the tandem of Shaquille O’Neil and Kobe Bryant, and two successive championships starring Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Overall, the Celtics had 17 championships, winning 11 in 13 years with the great Bill Russel from 1957 to 1969. Two titles in the 1970s with John Havlicek, three with Larry Bird in the 1980s, and one in 2008 with the dominant triumvirate of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett.
When you examine the histories of both teams, you’ll be amazed at how often they cross paths. In the 1960s, these teams were head-to-head six times; the Jerry West-led Lakers never got past Bill Russel’s Celtics. Then in the 1980s came the matchup between Larry Bird’s Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Lakers, with the Lakers winning two of three finals confrontations.
2010 NBA Championship
The Shaq-less Lakers had a four-year drought before they regained their winning ways. The Lakers’ victory against the Orlando Magic (4-1) in the 2009 NBA Finals was a prelude to an epic confrontation with their arch-nemesis, the Boston Celtics.
The return of the Lakers and Celtics to the 2010 NBA finals is their 13th matchup in their storied franchises. The cast was five future Hall of Famers and the best NBA players in 2000, including Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce.
Kobe was playing injured with a broken index finger; the best finger for shooting was taped like a mummy.
Both teams wanted severely to win Game 7, fighting for every ball on the floor the entire game with hustle and energy to the delight of fans. The game had many highlights and dramas, with Ron Artes, aka Metta World Peace, turning offensive rebounds into putbacks and steals to layups. Kevin Garnett was in his deadly form with his typical intensity, shot-making efficiency, and monster dunks. Kobe’s playoff nemesis Rasheed Wallace was guarding him while the reliable Derick Fisher directed the Lakers’ plays.
Kobe averaged 30 points a game, but an injured index finger bothered his shooting. He caromed 15 boards and was good for 23 points, which is great for many players, but not for a star like Kobe. However, Game 7 of the NBA Finals belonged to stars, and none shone brighter than Kobe’s that night.
The Black Mamba’s points mainly came in the fourth quarter, which mattered most. Kobe was dribbling the ball at the last minute, and the Celtic defenders were crowding him to prevent him from shooting. Kobe jumped in the air and made a pass to Metta for a dagger three securing his fifth NBA Championship ring.
Does Kobe Bryant Have More Rings than LeBron James and Michael Jordan?
Kobe Bryant had five rings, one better than LeBron James’s four and one short of Michal Jordan’s six.
The Black Mamba was one of the greatest players in the NBA and arguably the best player who sported the purple and gold jersey, but one spot he doesn’t get credit for is in the GOAT debate. Sometimes people don’t even rank Kobe in their top ten list, which is unfair to a man who had achieved a lot during his time on the court. What did him in was his lone MVP which affected his legacy; people tend to forget his other achievements.
When talking about GOAT basketball players, the names of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird crop up, but there are several metrics that Kobe surpassed. For instance, Kobe scored more points, 33,643, than Michael Jordan’s 32,292 points. He is one up in NBA Champion Rings than LeBron James; Bryant outrebounded Magic Johnson 7,047 to 6,559 and gave more assists than Larry Bird, 6,306 to 5,695.
People overlook the point that Kobe was not surrounded by All-Stars when he won the rings. While he did have Shaq during the Lakers three-peat run, they were a twosome unlike other dynasties who have a Big 3. Furthermore, he was the lone superstar in his fifth championship against the Celtics super team. None of these explanations meant that Bryant should be the GOAT since some players have a better case. But people should not entirely dismiss the Mamba in the discussion to show some respect for the achievements of a great athlete in the sport.
Kobe Career Highlights and NBA Titles
Mention any NBA award, and most likely, Mamba won it in addition to international awards, including two Olympic gold medals.
In his 20-year career in the NBA, Kobe racked up numbers in almost every facet of the game. From a remarkable young rookie to second fiddle, Kobe evolved into the Lakers team’s top dog. He tweaked his game to whatever the team needed. The results were multiple franchise championships and becoming a controversial figure the league has ever witnessed. To commemorate Kobe Bryant’s legacy, let us look at his career to gauge his place among the basketball greats.
|1||1996-97 All-Rookie selection|
|18||All-Star selection (1998, 2000-2016)|
|4||NBA All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011)|
|1||NBA Slam Dunk Champion (1997)|
|12||NBA All-Defensive selection (2000|
|2||NBA Scoring Champion|
|1||NBA MVP (2008)|
|5||NBA Champion (2000-2002, 2009, 2010)|
|2||NBA Finals MVP (2009, 2010)|
|1||NBA Hall of Fame|
Bryant wrote a poem, “Dear Basketball,” in 2015, which was made into a short film and won an Academy Award for “Best Animated Short Film.” In 2018, Bryant printed a book titled: “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play,” which explained his thoughts about basketball and his approach to the game.
Wrapping Things Up: How Many NBA Rings Did Kobe Bryant Have?
Kobe Bryant won five NBA rings with the Lakers Franchise. The dynamic duo of Shaq-Kobe won three successive championships from 2000 to 2002. In all three titles, Shaq was the NBA Finals MVP. In 2004, the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat, re-signed Kobe to a new contract, and built a team around Kobe. Fans criticized Kobe, blaming him for the breakup. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss reveals the truth: “[Shaq] wanted an amount of money that was legal under the CBA but it wasn’t what my Dad wanted to pay him.”
There’s a $9 million difference between what the Lakers were willing to pay. and the compensation Shaq wants. It was all about financial matters, and people blamed Kobe Bryant. The Lakers suffered a 6-year drought, and then in 2009 and 2010, there were two Kobe Bryant rings without Shaq.