Kobe Bryant: A Look Back at His Second NBA Championship

Kobe Bryant, Champion: NBA Finals 2001

2001 NBA Finals (Los Angeles Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers)


For the first time since the 1987-1988 season, the Los Angeles Lakers entered the summer as world champions.  The difference between the 2000 Lakers and the 1988 Lakers was that the latter's championship had been a repeat title.  Attempting to match that back-to-back feat is the challenge that stood before L.A. in the summer of 2000. 

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal had proven to be the ultimate hero-sidekick tandem in 2000, with Bryant providing suffocating perimeter defense and creativity, and O'Neal providing dominating inside play at both ends of the court.

However, this seemingly symbiotic relationship shared by the Laker superstars would come crashing down during preparation for a second title run.

Shaquille O'Neal, who had waited eight seasons to finally stand atop the podium as a champion, earned the right to enjoy his summer. He had just finished possibly the greatest Finals series by any player in history, and felt that it was time to relax.

His sidekick, however, had a different mindset.

Having only taken four seasons to win his first championship, Kobe Bryant was eager to collect more. He would enter the summer of 2000 determined to work his way to being the best player in the NBA.

Better even than his teammate, Shaq.

The careers of the two Laker stars would split from one another during the 2000-2001 regular season. After four seasons of O'Neal as option one on offense, and Bryant as a clear number two, Kobe had become Shaq's equal as an offensive threat.

The power struggle between Bryant and O'Neal on offense, as well as the overwhelming pressure to repeat as champions, led to a subpar season for Los Angeles. The Lakers would finish 56-26 before beginning their epic run towards a repeat championship. Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers