Make or Break: Why This Is the Most Important Series of Kobe’s Career

Kobe can't afford to just beat the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. He has to tear them to shreds.

As of this season, Bryant is known as the closest thing we have seen to Michael Jordan. And frankly, he is.

But a true competitor like Bryant, the guy that thrives on embarrassing his opponents for daring to attempt to keep him from winning, can't settle for being a carbon copy of the greatest player to ever play the game.

He needs to distinguish himself in some way from Jordan - and these Finals are exactly the stage for him to do it on.

The Celtics embarrassed the Lakers in 2008 and Kobe shouldered the majority of the blame for his team's inability to compete with the underdog Celtics.

Everyone remembers the image of Bryant leaving the court while green and white confetti showered the champion Celtics. The defeat of the Lakers was stunning in itself, but that was augmented because of how it ended – with a 39 point blowout of LA in Game Six.

It was an even greater disappointment owing to all the hype that surrounded a renewal of the greatest rivalry in basketball. The Celtics and the Lakers have been delivering historical matchups for over three decades and this series was an anti-climactic finish to the NBA season.

Now, Bryant is out for revenge and he knows that he will be the player under the most pressure to set himself apart in this series. If he wants to make a real impact on basketball historians, he has to put the Celtics away single-handedly. And only defer to teammates when absolutely necessary.

In 2009, Bryant relied on Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom frequently to dispose of the Magic in five games.

This year, Bryant is a significantly better player even though his stat sheet doesn't necessarily show it. He is more than capable of dominating this series against the Celtics as evidenced by his performance in the ...

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