It’s been exactly one year since the world lost the late, great Kobe Bryant (and eight others). And while it’s likely that the wounds of losing someone of his magnitude will never fully heal, there’s something poetic about his impact.
In a phrase, he epitomized what it meant to be “larger than life.”
It mattered not if Bryant was the hometown hero, or the archrival, knifing a blade into a road crowd. His body of work ensured that he commanded respect. As a case in point: Bryant went to battle against the Portland Trail Blazers on 104 occasions.
Over that course, he dealt Portland a whopping 62 defeats, including five different eliminations from the postseason.
Through a flick of that right wrist, he crushed dreams.
Yet even so, during his last game at Moda Center, there was nary a boo, nary a butt in seat. He received a standing ovation.
For two decades, the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers were among the NBA’s great rivalries. And while the Blazers seldom owned the edge, or a player consistently on Bryant’s stratosphere, the duels he put on with those in the red-and-black have a place in NBA lore.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant had some of his greatest duels against the Portland Trail Blazers. Here, we look back on the best of the bunch.
Here, we’ll take a closer look into the five greatest head-to-head battles with Kobe Bryant. But first, a few honorable mentions:
- Jan. 5, 2012 — LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace duel it out with Bryant and Pau Gasol in one of the early games of the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. The Blazers combo combine for 59 points and 15 rebounds on 24-of-39 shooting. Bryant has 30, but Portland has too much, and proves victorious.
- Jan. 8, 2010 — Perhaps the most fulfilling Kobe Bryant vs. Brandon Roy duel. Bryant throws up 37 shot attempts, whereas Roy goes 9-of-11 from the field. Both finish with 32 in a Blazers win.
- Feb. 17, 2002 — The Blazers put together a gritty 111-105 win on the backs of Bonzi Wells’ bully-ball offense. He and Bryant duke it out in the fourth quarter, combining for 20 points.