Kobe Bryant Never Let Nuggets Win Playoff Series vs. Him Because George Karl Benched Him Entire 4th Quarter Of ’98 All-Star Game: ‘It’s On Sight’

During his legendary career with the Los Angeles Lakers, NBA icon Kobe Bryant had many battles against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference playoffs. 

NBA, Lakers, Nuggets, Kobe Bryant, George Karl
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Bryant never lost to the Nuggets in the postseason and the Denver franchise has George Karl to blame for that. 

Cut from the same cloth as Michael Jordan, Bryant took things personally against Karl after what happened during the 1998 NBA All-Star Game.

At Madison Square Garden, Jordan and Bryant went at each other in the ’98 NBA All-Star Game. Bryant scored 18 points in 22 minutes, while Jordan put up 23 points to win the MVP award.

Bryant had a blast against Jordan and the two forged a strong bond. Jordan and Bryant are universally recognized as the two best shooting guards in NBA history.

Karl was the coach of the West All-Star team in 1998. For whatever reason, he benched Bryant for the entire fourth quarter despite the New York crowd clamoring to see the Lakers youngster play more.

As we saw in “The Last Dance” docuseries, Jordan used a snub from Karl to destroy the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 NBA Finals. Just like Jordan, Bryant got his revenge on Karl as well.

Bryant never wanted the Nuggets to beat him in the playoffs because of Karl. The Black Mamba was upset about getting benched for the entire fourth quarter of the 1998 NBA All-Star Game and never forgot about it.

The Lakers and Nuggets met in the playoffs three times while Karl was coaching in Denver. LA won each series thanks to Bryant, who went nuclear on the Nuggets.

Bryant and the Lakers swept Karl and the Nuggets in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. Kobe averaged 33.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. 

In the 2009 Western Conference Finals, a series the Lakers won in six games, Bryant put up 34.0 points, 5.8 boards and 5.8 assists per game.

LA and Denver faced each other one final time in the first round of the 2012 postseason. The Lakers won in seven games, with Bryant averaging 29.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

Incredibly, Karl pissed off two of the greatest players in NBA history in Jordan and Bryant. Future NBA coaches may want to avoid Karl and get advice from other tacticians.

Bryant averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.5 blocks in 1,346 regular-season games with the Lakers. He tragically passed away in January 2020 in a helicopter crash. 

Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, a five-time champion, a four-time All-Star Game MVP, a two-time Finals MVP, a two-time scoring champion, a 15-time All-NBA Team member, a 12-time All-Defensive Team member and the 2007-08 MVP.

Bryant is fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He scored 33,643 points during his iconic career. 

During the Bryant era, the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Bryant won three rings with Shaquille O’Neal and two with Pau Gasol.

The Lakers retired both of Bryant’s numbers (8 and 24) after he retired in 2016. They also built a statue this year. 

Bryant’s statue is of his 81-point game during the Lakers-Toronto Raptors game on January 22, 2006.

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