Honoring Kobe Bryant’s 40th, a look back at the Mamba’s top 5 games versus OKC

Kobe Bryant, OKC Thunder (Photo by Dave Sandford /NBAE via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant, OKC Thunder (Photo by Dave Sandford /NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Kobe Bryant OKC Thunder (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Over the course of Kobe Bryant’s career, he served up spectacular performances.  To mark the Mamba’s 40th TI dives into his top 5 games vs. the OKC Thunder.

It’s hard to believe two full seasons have passed since Kobe Bryant last laced up his kicks for the Lakers. A career spanning 20 years was peppered with copious highlights, awards, records and yes angst-filled losses by the OKC Thunder to the Lakers because of the Mamba.

Yet, there are also incredible wins the Thunder registered against the Lakers including playoff victories which heralded the passing of the torch from Bryant to Westbrook and Durant.

Yet on this Kobe Bryant’s 40th birthday, it feels appropriate to pay homage to the man who Russell Westbrook (an LA native) likely grew up admiring. And that admiration isn’t one-sided. Earlier this week NBA scribes Micah Adams and Scott Rafferty paid tribute to the Mamba via a post listing the top 40 rivals the Lakers star faced over his NBA tenure.

Westbrook made the list and also was cited as being the current generation’s star who Bryant feels best embodies himself.

"Like looking in a mirror: Some of the biggest names in today’s NBA see shades of Kobe when they watch Westbrook. Even Kobe sees it. According to Lakers Nation , Kobe said Westbrook is the player who reminds him the most of himself. “When I turn on the TV and I watch players play, the player that plays with the same kind of emotion and grit and competitive intensity is Russell.”"

The fact Bryant points to Westbrook’s intensity speaks volumes because more than any quality Kobe prided himself for it was his competitiveness and aggression. This is a compliment of the highest nature from a player who wasn’t known to dispense them with regularity given that competitive nature.

There are other OKC Thunder players (like former teammate Kevin Durant) who also might point to Bryant as being highly influential in his development. As would virtually every player who was rising up the ranks during Bryant’s career and he was leading the Lakers to a handful of rings.

With that, Happy Birthday Kobe. Hope you enjoy our top five.