LOS ANGELES - Sunday marks what would have been NBA legend Kobe Bryant's 42nd birthday. It also marks the start of Mamba Week, and to continue celebrating his legacy, here's a look back on some of his greatest career moments.
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1996: As a high school senior, Bryant was named the Naismith Prep Player of the year.
At just 17-years-old and weeks after graduating Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Kobe Bryant was drafted in the first round and as the 13th overall pick in the NBA draft. It was an elite class that included Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, and Jermaine O'Neal.
Jerry West, GM, Kobe Bryant and Head Coach Del Harris (Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage)
Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and was then immediately traded to the LA Lakers for Vlade Divac.
According to the New York Times, he signed an endorsement deal with Adidas a month before the draft.
1997: As a rookie, Bryant won the NBA Slam Dunk contest and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
1998: Kobe made his debut NBA All-Star Game appearance and faced his idol, Michael Jordan.
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (L) eyes the basket as he is guarded by Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during their 01 February game in Los Angeles, CA. Jordan will appear in his 12th NBA All-Star game 08 Februa
The Chicago Bulls were unstoppable and won their second title of what would become a threepeat that year.
1999: The emerging superstar was named to the NBA Third Team and would earn the same honor six years later.
2000: The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals Championship against the Indiana Pacers in six games. Often named one of the best NBA duos in history, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal were teammates from 1996-2004.
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Kobe Bryant (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers holds the Larry O'Brian trophy as teammate Shaquille O'Neal (L) hold the MVP trophy after winning the NBA Championship against Indiana Pacers 19 June, 2000, after game six of the N
Bryant made his second NBA All-Star Game appearance and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
2001: Kobe and Shaq brought back the NBA Finals Championship trophy to Los Angeles for the second year in a row.
The Lakers swept Allen Iverson's Philadelphia 76ers.
President George Bush meets with the Los Angeles Lakers at the White House. (Photo by �� Brooks Kraft/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
2002: Bryant was unstoppable. Not only did he win his third NBA Finals Championship, but he was also the NBA All-Star Game MVP.
The Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 12: Kobe Bryant, Lindsey Hunter and Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate following Game Four of the NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets on June 12, 2002 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N
2003: The NBA superstar was named All-NBA First Team, NBA All-Defensive First Team, and made his fifth NBA All-Star Game appearance. This is also the year he unleashed his "Black Mamba," alter ego.
"There’s a difference between who you are and what you are. What I am when I step on that court is… I become that. I am that killer snake and I’m stone cold," he said during "Kobe: The Interview."
He also opted to break his contract with Adidas and signed with Nike.
2006: Kobe made the switch from No. 8 to No. 24 and in 2006, he had one of the greatest performances in NBA history.
On January 22, he scored a historic 81 points in the Lakers 122-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Bryant, who averaged 35.4 points per game, was the NBA scoring champion during the 2005-06 season. He also won the honor in 2007.
2007: For the second time, Bryant was named NBA All-Star Game MVP.
2008: In his 20-year NBA career, 2008 is often considered Bryant's best season. He won the NBA MVP for the 2007-08 season and became an Olympic gold medalist at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
USA's Kobe Bryant celebrates at the end of the men's basketball gold medal match Spain against The US of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 at the Olympic basketball Arena in Beijing. The US won 118-107. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE
2009: "Black Mamba" was in full force in 2009 and is also in contention as Bryant's best season.
He scored 61 points against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 2.
Using his Mamba Mentality, Bryant shared the NBA All-Star Game MVP with Shaq who was playing for the Phoenix Suns. Bryant was also named the NBA Finals MVP.
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates victory with his family following Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won the National Basketball Association championship
The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals Championship against the Orlando Magic.
2010: The NBA legend won his fifth NBA Finals Championship and was named Finals MVP.
The Los Angeles Lakers were victorious over the Boston Celtics in an intense seven-game series.
2011: For the fourth time, Bryant was rewarded NBA All-Star Game MVP.
2012: The USA Olympic men's basketball team was loaded with talent. The roster included Bryant, along with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Tyson Chandler, and Anthony Davis.
The Olympic squad won the gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The USA's Kobe Bryant and teammates during the national anthem at the Men's Basketball Final between USA and Spain at the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic games. London, UK. 12th August 2012. (Photo: Steve Christo) (Photo by Steve
2016: On April 13, Bryant's final performance in a Lakers uniform was unforgettable as he orchestrated a 60-point extravaganza in a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles lakers gestures while addressing the fans following his final game as a Laker in their season-ending NBA western division matchup aginst the Utah Jazz in Los Angeles, California on April 13, 2016, where the Lakers defea
Overwhelmed by his emotions, Bryant played it cool like he was known to do when he made his famous "Mamba Out" speech during a post-game ceremony dedicated to him.
2018: Produced by his own multimedia company, Bryant wrote "Dear Basketball," which won an Academy Award in 2018.
TOPSHOT - Kobe Bryant poses in the press room with the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for "Dear Basketball," during the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should
To review, some of Kobe's accolades include 2 Olympic gold medals, 18 NBA All-Star game appearances, 5 NBA Finals Championship rings, 2 NBA Finals MVPs, and an NBA MVP.
The Los Angeles icon continues to be remembered not only for his Black Mamba mentality on the court, but also for his philanthropy off the court.
Sunday not only marks his birthday, but Nike will launch "Mamba Week" in his honor.
In a statement, Nike said in part:
"Throughout his career, and even after his retirement in 2016, Mamba Mentality became an indicator for something extraordinary in the world of sports. Athletes who channeled Kobe’s instinct or flair for the clutch were branded with the moniker. Kobe himself instilled it in the young women he coached in his retirement, including his daughter Gianna, who naturally embodied the next generation of Kobe’s relentless competitiveness."
The Los Angeles Lakers, who are currently in the first round of playoffs in the NBA Bubble in Orlando, will also wear special jerseys to honor him during Sunday night's game.
Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter in Calabasas on Jan. 26.