NBA Los Angeles Lakers

5 Greatest Individual Playoff Series Of Kobe Bryant’s Career

5 Greatest Individual Playoff Series Of Kobe Bryant’s Career

2009 NBA Finals Game 1: Orlando Magic v Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Images Sport- Juan Ocampo

In honor of Kobe Bryant’s 36th birthday this month, I'm looking back at some of the greatest, most polarizing, and memorable moments in his 18-year career. With half of his life spent in the NBA, Kobe has provided a legacy that will be debated long after he retires. Without further ado, here are Bryant's five best statistical playoff series of his career.

5. 2008 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Utah Jazz

2008 Western Conference Semi-Finals: Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz, Game 6
Getty Images Sport- Melissa Majchrzak

5. 2008 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Utah Jazz

2008 Western Conference Semi-Finals: Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz, Game 6
Getty Images Sport- Melissa Majchrzak

The Utah Jazz were a formidable team which unfortunately ran into the Lakers in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 playoffs. The most competitive series came in 2008, with the Jazz and Lakers battling to several contested finishes. Bryant exploited holes in the Jazz's defense, which allowed him to score and serve as an effective playmaker.

Stats: 33.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 7.2 APG, 49.1 FG%, 20.8 3P%, 83.3 FT%, 4 TO

4. 2009 NBA Finals vs. Orlando Magic

2009 NBA Finals Game 5:  Los Angeles Lakers v Orlando Magic
Getty Images Sport- Ronald Martinez

4. 2009 NBA Finals vs. Orlando Magic

2009 NBA Finals Game 5:  Los Angeles Lakers v Orlando Magic
Getty Images Sport- Ronald Martinez

When the Lakers made the 2009 Finals, Bryant refused to let them lose like they did in 2008. Instead, he exploded offensively in Game 1 for 40 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, deflating any hope the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic had going into the series. The championship was Bryant's first without Shaq.

Stats: 32.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.4 APG, 43 FG%, 36 3P%, 84.1 FT%, 3.2 TO

3. 2009 Western Conference Finals vs. Denver Nuggets

2009 Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets, Game 6
Getty Images Sport- Andrew D. Bernstein

3. 2009 Western Conference Finals vs. Denver Nuggets

2009 Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets, Game 6
Getty Images Sport- Andrew D. Bernstein

With a chance to play in another NBA Finals at stake, the Lakers matched up with a focused and physical Denver Nuggets squad led by Carmelo Anthony. Bryant led the team throughout the series, scoring over 40 points twice, which included a game-winning 3-pointer on the road in Game 3.

Stats: 34 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.8 APG, 48.1 FG%, 34.4 3P%, 93.1 FT%, 2.17 TO

2. 2001 Western Conference Finals vs. San Antonio Spurs

2001 Western Conference Finals: Spurs v Lakers
Getty Images Sport- Donald Miralle

2. 2001 Western Conference Finals vs. San Antonio Spurs

2001 Western Conference Finals: Spurs v Lakers
Getty Images Sport- Donald Miralle

In a matchup of the two previous NBA Champions, the Lakers took on the San Antonio Spurs in a battle of titans. Instead of a competitive series, the Lakers, led by Shaq and Bryant, dismantled the Spurs in historic fashion. As part of a four-game sweep, Bryant performed at the best of his young career, including a 45-point opener on the road.

Stats: 33.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 7.0 APG, 51.1 FG%, 35.7 3P%, 76.9 FT%, 2.75 TO

1. 2010 Western Conference Finals vs. Phoenix Suns

2010 Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns, Game 6
Getty Images- P.A. Malumby

1. 2010 Western Conference Finals vs. Phoenix Suns

2010 Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns, Game 6
Getty Images- P.A. Malumby

In 2010, the Lakers were on the verge of reaching their third consecutive NBA Finals. In front of them stood a resilient and familiar foe – the Phoenix Suns. Bryant wasted little time, scoring 40 points in the opener. His shooting efficiency, passing and rebounding efforts were beyond elite, and he carried the Lakers in the finale on the road.

Stats: 33.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 8.3 APG, 52.1 FG%, 43.2 3P%, 88.1 FT%, 2.5 TO

Zach Fetaru is a Los Angeles Lakers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @fanforlife1988 ”like him” on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.