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8 of the Toughest Teams Kobe Bryant Has Ever Faced in the NBA

Many players wanted to be like Mike. Kobe was the closest to ever do it.

1999-2000 Portland Trailblazers

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The Blazers were built like an All-Star team with quality players like Scottie Pippen, Arvydas Sabonis, Detlef Schrempf, Steve Smith, Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Jermaine O'Neal, Bonzi Wells, Brian Grant and Stacey Augmon. On any other team these players would be starters but many of them became reserves on the Blazers.

This made the Blazers a formidable and deep team. They essentially had a roster that was 10 players deep.

Scottie Pippen was a six-time champion and one of the league's best defenders. He was Michael Jordan's running mate during most of his time in Chicago and they were able to build a dynasty together. Pippen could get you what you need - points, rebounds, steals and blocks.

Rasheed Wallace was an up and coming power forward who could not only post up but also shoot three pointers and fadeaway jumpers. He was also long and agile and could easily pull rebounds and block shots.

Arvydas Sabonis was one of the best players in Europe at one point. He had a nice shooting touch and was one of the game's best passing big men.

Damon Stoudamire was a star with the Toronto Raptors and could easily score and assist in double digits. He is a native of Portland and was traded to join his hometown team. His quickness lead to steals and offensive opportunities for his team.

Steve Smith was one of the best three point shooters of his day. Being 6'8" he could easily shoot over the competition.

Detlef Schrempf was Dirk Nowitzki before Dirk Nowitzki. He had a very similar game with Dirk and coincidentally both were from Germany.

Brian Grant was the heart and soul of the team. Despite being undersized, he was an excellent rebounder and could bully his way into the paint.

Portland had a very good regular season. They placed third in the Western Conference by posting a winning record (59–23).

The Blazers were very dominant in the playoffs and easily decimated the Minnesota Timberwolves 3–1 and the Utah Jazz 4–1 on their way with a match-up with the top seeded Lakers.

What the Blazers lacked was a dominant center who could shackle Shaquille O' Neil and a wing defender who could stifle Kobe Bryant. This lead to a 1-3 hole.

The Blazers came back and were Up by 15 points with ten minutes left in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, the Blazers could not buy a bucket afterwards and the Lakers had a 15–0 run and score a 89–84 victory over the Blazers.

The Blazers never recovered after this as they made roster changes the following season instead of keeping the team for one more try.

2001-2002 Sacramento Kings

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The Sacramento Kings were one of the most exciting teams to watch in the early 2000's

They had the second best offense with 104.6 points per game. This efficient offense is due to the fact that all of the Kings' starters could all score and were all decent passers.

The Kings had three main weapons in Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby.

Chris Webber was one of the most skilled big men ever and could shoot, dribble, pass, block and rebound. Webber had soft hands and had guard-like skills despite having the size and strength of a power forward.

Peja Stojakovic was a spot up shooter who was the Klay Thompson of his day. Peja was a regular participant in NBA Three-Point Contest and won back to back in 2002 and 2003.

Mike Bibby was a skilled passer and clutch shooter. When you need a bucket in pressure situations, Bibby was your guy.

The bench was decent as well with versatile Hedo Turkoglu, sparkplug Bobby Jackson and board crasher Scot Pollard.

Sacramento was the best team in the league with a 61-21 record.

The Kings took the Lakers to seven games in the 2002 Western Conference Finals but lost a close seventh game due to poor officiating.

Sacramento did well the next season but began their decline when Chris Webber got injured in the series against Dallas.

The Kings would soon deal Webber and rebuild the team.

They never achieved the same success ever since.

2005-2006 Phoenix Suns

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The 2005-2006 Phoenix Suns had the best pick and roll act in Amar'e Stoudemire and Steve Nash and had a bevy of three point shooters in Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa, Tim Thomas, James Jones and Eddie House.The Suns also had a defensive stalwart in Shawn Marion who was given the toughest assignments on a nightly basis.

The Suns had a lot going on for them.

They had one of the best point guards of all time in Steve Nash. Steve could easily get 20 points and 10 assists on a nightly basis.

They also had one of the best power forwards of the era in Amar'e Stoudemire. Stoudemire was easily a 20 point and 10 rebound player.

The Suns also had versatile forward Shawn Marion who was a stat stuffer. He was a better version of Draymond Green.

Phoenix also had Leandro Barbosa - a perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate who was a sparkplug off the bench.

The Suns implemented a "seven seconds or less" type of offense where they tried to get shots off as quick as possible. This lead to a league best 108.4 points per game.

Life was difficult for Kobe Bryant after Shaquille O' Neil left. Kobe had to carry most of the offensive load and no longer had a dominant low post presence.

Despite the lack of a proper supporting cast, Kobe and his Lakers was still able to gain a 1-3 advantage over Phoenix.

Unfortunately for Kobe, Phoenix's depth and firepower overcame this lead and they were able to win the series 4-3.

2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks

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Dallas has never won a championship and Dirk was close in 2006. Sadly, Dwyane Wade caught fire and led Miami back from a 0-2 deficit.

The Mavericks have tried to put pieces around Dirk Nowitzki and none of their roster moves have succeeded in producing a title.

This time around, the Mavericks surrounded Nowitzki with some veterans who could shoot the three ball and a few defensive pieces.

Caron Butler, Peja Stojaković, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry could all shoot from outside and Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson were all good defensive players.

The Mavericks had five players average in double figures in Dirk Nowitzki (23.0 PPG), Caron Butler (15.0 PPG), Tyson Chandler (10.1 PPG), Shawn Marion (12.5 PPG) and Jason Terry (15.8 PPG).

With Dallas' firepower, the team was able to compile a 57–25 record. This was good enough to be third in a tough Western Conference.

The heavy favorites in this season were the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and the newly formed superteam of the Miami Heat.

While the Kobe Bryant led Lakers team were seemingly poised for a three-peat, the Mavericks ambushed them in the second round of the playoffs and swept them.

This lead to a match-up with the Oklahoma City Thunder and then the Miami Heat.

Dallas then won its first and only championship.

2007-2008 Boston Celtics

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For a few seasons Boston had a good tandem in Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker.

When Walker was shipped out of town, the Celtics slowly sunk until they reached a 24–58 record in the 2006-2007 season. This was the second-worst in franchise history.

While Boston had reached as far as the Eastern Conference Finals after Larry Bird left town, they have never reached the Finals let alone won another championship.

It has been a long twenty years since Larry Legend hoisted the Larry O' Brien trophy.

The Celtics then ushered the superteam era by making two significant trades.

They traded Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and Jeff Green to the Seattle Supersonics for sharpshooter Ray Allen and Glen “Big Baby” Davis.

They also traded Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair and two first-round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett.


This led to a huge turnaround for the franchisewhere they had a 66-16 record.

Despite being dominant in the regular season, the Celtics struggled in the playoffs with two seven-game series in the first two rounds.

After dispatching the Detroit Pistons in six games, it was time to rekindle an old rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe was trying to win his first championship after Shaq left town and with Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, he had a good chance of doing so.

The Lakers, however, lost the first two games en-route to a Finals loss.

2012-13 San Antonio Spurs

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The San Antonio Spurs were always a threat during the Tim Duncan era. This particular incarnation of the Spurs had the core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

This was a very balanced team as they had six players average double figures - Tony Parker (20.3 PPG), Tim Duncan (17.8), Kawhi Leonard (11.9 PPG), Manu Ginobili (11.8 PPG), Danny Green (10.5 PPG) and Tiago Splitter (10.3 PPG).

This balanced attack helped the spurs achieve the fourth best offensive rating.

The team also had the eleventh best defensive rating.

The Spurs were led by a prime Tony Parker who was easily a 20 point 10 assist player.

The other two members of the spurs' big three were past their prime but still had plenty left in the tank.

Tim Duncan was still a 20 point 10 rebound player.

Manu Ginobili was still a good 10-15 points off the bench.

Kobe's Lakers could not withstand the Spurs' onslaught and easily fell to them in four games in the first round of the playoffs.

This team made it all the way to the Finals before falling to the Miami Heat in seven games.

The Spurs would get their revenge the following year.

1996-1997 Utah Jazz

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The Utah Jazz were not a team of All-Stars. They had three All-Star caliber talent in Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek.

Karl Malone averaged 27.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG and 4.5 APG on his way to an MVP caliber season.

John Stockton, Karl's running mate, averaged 14.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 10.5 APG.

Jeff Hornacek, the third member of the triumvirate, averaged 14.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG and 4.4 APG.

The Jazz thrived through pick and rolls and precise execution.

Their teamwork led to a 64–18 record which was the best in the Western Conference and the best in franchise history.

The Jazz were also invincible at home with a 38-3 record.

A young Kobe and Shaq faced the veteran Jazz and were easily trounced in five games. This series could be remembered because of a young Kobe

making multiple airballs in an attempt to stave off elimination by the Jazz.

The Jazz would go on to the Finals where they lost to the Bulls in six games.

1995-1996 Chicago Bulls

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This team has kept the core that won a then record 72 regular season games.

They were not able to top 72 games but still won 69 games.

The Bulls had the best offense in the league with 103.1 PPG and the league's sixth best defense by holding opponents to 92.3 PPG.

It was very hard for offenses to score against the Bulls as their Starting lineup had four great perimeter defenders in Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper and Dennis Rodman.

The Bulls had a superb line-up headlined by Michael Jordan, the best player in the game.

Michael Jordan, the game's best scorer, averaged 29.6 PPG, 5.9RPG and 4.3 APG.

Scottie Pippen, the game's best wing defender, averaged 20.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 5.7 APG.

Dennis Rodman, the game's best rebounder, averaged 5.7 PPG, 16.1 RPG and 3.1 APG.

Toni Kukoc, the game's best sixth man, averaged 13.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 4.5 APG.

This season marked the Bulls' fifth title win.

The core of this team not only was able to win 72 games but also won a three-peat.

© 2021 Jan Michael Ong

Comments

ToufiQ from Delhi on June 03, 2021:

Good Job

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