Midway through the 2000-01 season, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers had a solid record, but they were struggling (by their lofty standards), and perhaps the biggest reason was health.
Most members of the team hadn’t reported to training camp in shape, while Derek Fisher was out for most of the season and Shaquille O’Neal sat out six straight games in late January and early February.
With the team’s dominant center out, Kobe Bryant needed to step up, and step up he did.
The Lakers took on the Charlotte Hornets, a solid, playoff-bound team, on Feb. 2, and after losing four of their last six, they would get back on track thanks to Bryant.
He went off for an efficient 44 points while adding nine rebounds and five blocked shots, as L.A. scraped out a 93-87 win. Bryant also played all 48 minutes to boot.
The win started the Lakers on a four-game winning streak, and as the weeks wore on, they would eventually fully rediscover their mojo and win their second straight world title.