Kobe Bryant is a Los Angeles Lakers legend and has had one of the most storied NBA careers in the history of the league, but there was always one failure that ate at him more than any other.
Kobe has always said that the 2008 NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics was the hardest loss of his career.
With Kobe set to play in his final game in Boston, he discussed that 2008 loss to the Celtics via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
Kobe on losing to Boston in the 2008 Finals: "For the second half of my career, that was the most important piece."
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) December 30, 2015
That Lakers team was favored to win it all, but were dominated physically by the stronger Celtics. The Lakers weren’t helped by the absence of starting center Andrew Bynum, but Kobe has never used that as an excuse for the loss.
The loss did serve to motivate Kobe and the Lakers next season to ensure that they would right their wrong. They would win the championship in 2009, but not against the Celtics. It wasn’t until 2010 when the Lakers could exact revenge on the Celtics and they did just that, in one of the most grueling seven-game series ever.
At this stage, Kobe is the only person left from that rivalry as Bynum, Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce have all moved on and the next stage of the rivalry between these teams will have to be carried on by the new generation. Had the Lakers not failed in 2008, however, the legacy of Kobe might never have become what it was.