Remembering Kobe Bryant—Watch the Five Best Moments of His Extraordinary Career

Few players have captured the imagination of basketball fans across the world as Kobe Bryant did throughout a stellar 20-year career.

During his two decades in the league, Bryant, whose life was tragically cut short in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning, won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP crowns and one regular season MVP award.

Impressive as the list of accolades is, statistics alone don't do Bryant justice. More than any of his contemporaries, he picked up Michael Jordan's mantle and displayed the same clutch gene, stone-cold mindset and ability to seemingly bend games to his will.

Compiling a list of the best moments of Bryant's career is a nigh-on impossible task given the amount of options to choose from, but here are five of his most iconic performances in chronological order.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers holds up the Larry O'Brien trophy and the Bill Russell MVP trophy after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. Ronald Martinez/Getty

The Western Conference Finals Game 7 alley-oop—June 4, 2000

Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal won three consecutive titles together between 2000 and 2002, but the most iconic moment of their tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers arguably did not come in any of their four trip to the NBA Finals but in the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Having relinquished a 3-1 lead in the series against a Portland Trail Blazers side featuring Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire, the Lakers found themselves in a hole in the decider at home.

Trailing by 14 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Lakers mounted a spirited rally and were up by four points when, with less than a minute to go, Bryant dribbled into the lane and put up a high, arcing pass which was emphatically finished by O'Neal.

The Kobe-Shaq duo had arrived on the playoffs stage and would dominate the NBA for the next three years.

Announcing his arrival in the NBA Finals—June 14, 2000

Chasing a first NBA title in 12 years, the Lakers arrived into Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals with a 2-1 lead over the Indiana Pacers. With Shaquille O'Neal fouled out midway through overtime, a then 21-year-old Bryant hit three clutch shots as the Lakers secured an ultimately crucial 120-118 win in Indianapolis.

Despite dealing with an ankle injury, Bryant finished with 28 points in 47 minutes and displayed the kind of winning mentality that would become a staple of his career.

"In our mind this was the championship, so we came out with effort," he said after the game. "We wanted to keep it close and then make a run.

"We'd score, they'd come back and score, we'd score, they'd score. You could get mad because our defense was lacking, but at the same time it was fun. This is the type of thing you watch growing up: the ultimate, the NBA Finals."

The 81-point game—January 22, 2006

A scoring machine throughout his career, Bryant averaged 25 points per game in his 1,346 regular season games and sits fourth in the all-time list of NBA scorers after being overtaken by LeBron James on Saturday.

Among his scoring exploits, however, one stands head and shoulders above the rest. In the midst of a season that would see him average a league-best and career-best 35.4 points per game, Bryant dropped 81 points over the Toronto Raptors in a 122-104 win.

To put the figure into context, Bryant's tally was a point higher than the total points scored by the Raptors' five starters combined and 68 points higher than his highest scoring teammate—Smush Parker with 13.

Over the course of 42 otherworldly minutes, Bryant went 28-of-46 from the field and 18-of-20 from the free throw line, scoring a combined 55 points in the last two quarters alone.

Aside from Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962, nobody has scored more than the Black Mamba in a single NBA game.

The fifth ring—June 17, 2010

After winning three consecutive titles alongside Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant had to wait until 2009 to lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy again, as the Lakers thrashed the Orlando Magic 4-1.

The title he won a year later, however, would prove to be even sweeter as it came against the Boston Celtics, as the Lakers avenged the loss they had suffered to their arch-rivals in the NBA Finals two years earlier.

Bryant top scored for the Lakers in six of the seven games of the series and scored 10 points in the final quarter of Game 7, leading his team to a 83-79 win in front of a delirious Staples Center as he claimed a second consecutive NBA Finals MVP award.

Bowing out on top—April 13, 2016

After three injured-plagued seasons, Bryant announced he would retire at the end of the 2016 season. The Lakers were no longer the force of old—they finished 17-65 in his final season, the worst record in franchise history—and his own powers were waning, but true to form Bryant went out on his own terms.

In a 101-96 win in the season finale against the Utah Jazz, Bryant finished with 60 points, outscoring the entire Jazz team in the fourth quarter and becoming the oldest game in NBA history to score at least 60 points.