When we talk about the Spurs – Lakers rivalry there is nothing but respect from both sides. It was a strong fierce competition whenever the Lakers and Spurs met in the playoffs the winner usually ended up in the finals. The dominance of Spurs and Lakers through the years of 1997-2016 allowed 10 NBA championships between both sides, 5 rings each for Kobe and Duncan, the reign of dominance beginning in 99 where the Spurs won in a clean sweep and the Lakers went into postseason and next season Kobe and Shaq had to find a way to stop Tim Duncan. The season of 2001 after finishing 56-26 the Lakers met the Spurs in the conference finals again in dominant Lakers fashion they returned the favour and won 4-0 now sending the Spurs in the postseason and the following season trying to find a way to stop this incredible duo of Kobe and Shaq, 2002 Lakers won again 4-1 at this point Lakers now had themselves a 3-peat how could anyone possibly compete? 2003 they once engaged in a heated battle and Spurs won 4-2 ending the Lakers chance to go 4-4 in the finals. Before we talk about an important season (2004) Kobe and Duncan met a total of 82 times including playoffs. Duncan won the regular season but Kobe won the playoffs with a record of 18-12 the last time Kobe and Duncan met in the playoffs was 08. Both teams bought out the best in each other. No one wanted their season to end early, they both battled with all their to try and get to the finals.
Now enter the 2004 playoffs but before this the regular season Kobe Bryant was dealing with surgically repaired shoulder not only this but he was also the center of media attention dealing with a legal court situation this man was going through it all being hounded by media and people and having to deal with an injury not only this but a “feud” of some sort started to brew between Kobe and Shaq which was fuelled by the media even more, each time both Kobe and Shaq taking small digs at each other during interviews. However through this all Kobe Bryant overcame everything dealing with so much on his plate he played basketball he continued to play the game with passion, hearing Kobe was going through all of this he must be superhuman for dealing with this, none of us really know how much all of this would’ve affected him. The Lakers made the playoffs and once again in their rivalry story they met the Spurs again in the western conference semifinals, Kobe Bryant and Shaq won the series 4-2, memories were made the historic Derek Fisher 0.4 shot for the lakers to lead the series 3-2. Kobe Bryant was the highest scoring of both teams for 4 out of the 6 games he totaled 158 points which was the most out of all players in that series. Kobe’s highest scoring game was game 4. Before this game he went to Colorado to plead not guilty in his sexual assault case after this he hopped on plane to LA and proceeded to drop 42 points on the Spurs.
The case was eventually dropped in summer, a civil lawsuit that was
settled. Kobe Bryant faced so much adversity in 2004 whether it was on court issues with injuries or off court issues with Shaq and the legal case, Kobe persevered and continued to be a fan favourite to many. He led the Lakers to 2 more titles with Pau Gasol being his dynamic duo this time. Kobe Bryant is an icon to many, even mentoring players like DeMar DeRozan, Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving and many more. His game will live on in many players and his legacy will always be remembered, he will be remembered as one of the greatest lakers of all time and one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.
Rest in perfect peace Kobe Bryant the game will always love you.