As a young teenager just drafted to the NBA and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant didn’t hide the lofty goals and expectations he held for himself. It was that motivation which led to then-general manager Jerry West completing a deal for the young shooting guard.
While Bryant needed time to develop, he and Shaquille O’Neal, along with head coach Phil Jackson, led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships. Bryant’s meteoric rise and O’Neal advancing in age, led to the juggernaut being broken up.
Lean years were put an end to when the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol, resulting in two titles over three straight trips to the NBA Finals.
During a public speaking event, Bryant reflected on his five championships and aspirations he had as a young child, via Body Armor:
“I left a few on the table, to be honest with you. As a kid you grow up and you say, ‘OK, this is what I want to do. I want to win eight championships.’ I fell three short, but that was a real thing for me. This is what I’m going to do, right? It’s like us sitting here and saying, ‘We’re going to be the number one sports drink in 2025.’ Everybody will sit there and laugh at it. As a 10-year-old kid, I said, ‘I want eight championships. I want to be one of the greatest players of all time.”
Bryant then explained his desire behind winning eight NBA titles:
“Because Magic had five, Jordan won six. So, Michael won one more than Magic. I wanted to win two more than Michael. It makes no sense, but it made sense to me.”
Missed opportunities for Bryant and the Lakers primarily include losses in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics. Falling to their archrival was agitating, but Bryant in particular takes blame for Detroit pulling off a stunning upset in five games.
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