During his first season, Bryant did have much to show, however, by the end of the season he was able to average out 15.5 minutes per game. During his second season, Bryant started to show promise, and got more game time, as well as maintaining his score to 15.4 per game, more than twice his average score, in the previous season.
During this year he also won the Slam Dunk Competition, which made him the youngest player to win the competition.
In 1999 Phil Jackson took over as the Lakers' coach, and this marked a turning point in Kobes career. Bryant missed the first six weeks of the season, due to a hand injury. However, when he recovered, he became the best shooting guard the Lakers had at the time, and saw an increase in all statistics, including points and assists per game. It was mostly because of Bryant and their star centre, Shaquille O'Neill, that the Lakers won the Championship, with O'Neill winning the MVP award, and Bryant in All-NBA, All-Star and All-teams.
During the 2000-2001 season, Kobes statistics grew rapidly and he finished with 29.4 games per game. The Lakers' won the season, but didn't win as many games as the previous season. His teammate O'Neill called Bryant, the “Best player in the league.”
During the 2001-2002 season, Kobe had an average of 25.2 points per game, and this was the first season that Bryant played 80 games in the season. In the Final, he won the championship for the Lakers, the fourth quarter earned him a reputation as a clutch player, and gave him the title, 'The Black Mamba'.
In the 2002-2003 season, Kobe averaged 30 points per game, and led the teams into the finals, only to loose the championship. The Lakers again lost in the 2003-2004 season, however, Kobe Bryant was extremely successful, at scoring buzzer beaters, increasing his reputation as a clutch player.
The same year O'Neill was traded to Miami Heat, which started a small fight between Kobe and O'Neill. Kobe Bryant signed a new seven-year contract with the Lakers, after rejecting an offer, from the LA Clippers.
During the 2004-2005 season, the Lakers missed the playoffs, even though Kobe was the Leagues' second highest scorer, with 27.6 points per game. Even though the championship wasn't won, the 2005-2006 season was one of great importance for Bryant, as Phil Jackson returned as the Lakers' coach and Bryant settled differences with former team mate O'Neill. Plus on January 22, 2006, Kobe scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second highest points scored in NBA history! At the beginning of the 2006-2007 season, Bryant changed his number from 8 to 24, as that was his first high school number. It also became the highest selling jersey, as Bryant scored 50+ points in 10 games! He also scored 60+ points in more than two games.
During the 2007-2008 season, Bryant became the youngest player to score 20,000 points. He also led the Lakers to the final, but lost to the Boston Celtics, however, Bryant still won the MVP award.
He remained successful in 2008-2009 and the 2009-2010 seasons, facing the Orlando Magics and the Boston Celtics respectively. Against Orlando, the Lakers finished the final at Game Five, winning the series 4-1 and the Lakers beat the Celtics at Game Seven, winning the series 4-3. Bryant said that his best championship was 2009-2010, as it was the hardest and it was also the first time the Lakers beat the Celtics in the NBA finals.
This was one of the most memorable moments in NBA history as the arch rivalry between Lakers vs Celtics had become more intense. This was also the season Kobe became the all-time top scorer for the Lakers. He also won the MVP award, during both these championships.
According to Magic Johnson, an NBA legend, Kobe has surpassed Michael Jordan. Kobe has won five championships, while Jordan has won six; however, Kobe is still young and will play for a few more years. It is believed that Kobe has more talent than Jordan, as these days games are harder, and defense strategies and 'plays' have developed since Jordan retired.
As the 2010-2011 season is about to start, it is a beginning to look dark for Kobe, as Lebron James, and Dwayne Wade, the two best players in the league after Kobe are now in the same team.