Kobe on Christmas Day

Kobe Bryant ChristmasOver the last 13 years, you’ve been almost as likely to see Kobe Bryant on Christmas Day as Santa, Rudolph, candy canes, and ornament-laden trees.

We might as well just give him a red robe.

Since entering the NBA in 1996, Bryant has appeared in 11 Christmas games, save only the 1997-98 and 98-99 seasons, including the last nine.

After L.A. won three of its first four X-Mas games with Kobe, they lost five straight before beating Phoenix in 2007 and Boston last season.

This year, the Cleveland Cavs come to town, but until we get there, here’s a quick look at Kobe’s Christmas performances.

1996: Lakers 108, Suns 87.
In just five minutes of playing time for the 18-year-old, Kobe went scoreless in taking only two shots.

1999: Lakers 99, Spurs 93.
Two seasons later, Bryant’s minutes bumped to 35 minutes, which he used to score 18 points with five boards and five assists as the Lakers took down the defending champion Spurs.

2000: Portland 109, Lakers 104.
Bryant managed 29 point sand six assists againt a tough Blazers team, but it wasn’t enough for the win.

2001: Lakers 88, 76ers 82.
Kobe had a tough shooting night (6-of-19) to score only 12 points, but he did manage nine assists and 11 rebounds to help the Lakers overcome a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat their previous NBA Finals opponent.

2002: Sacramento 105, Lakers 99.
Speaking of teams L.A. beat in the playoffs … Bryant dropped 27 points and gathered a Christmas-Day-high 15 rebounds plus six assists in the loss.

2003: Rockets 99, Lakers 87.
Another tough shooting night it was for Kobe, who made only 9-of-26 shots to get his 23 points, with six assists and eight rebounds in a loss.

2004: Heat 104, Lakers 102.
In the much-ballyhood return of Shaq to STAPLES Center, Kobe went off for 42 points (including 13-of-13 from the line) but missed a three-pointer in overtime that would have made the difference.

2005: Heat 97, Lakers 92.
The Heat bested L.A. again despite Bryant’s 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists, as Shaq posted 18 points and 17 boards for Miami.

2006: Heat 101, Lakers 85.
Bryant had one of his worst games on X-Mas by making just 4-of-17 shots for 16 points against a solid defensive effort from Miami, who was led by 40 points from Dwyane Wade.

2007: Lakers 122, Suns 115.
Kobe amasseed his second-highest Santa Day scoring output with 38 points on 12-of-20 shooting to lead L.A. past the Suns in a shootout, adding seven assists, five boards and two steals just over a month before Pau Gasol joined the team.

2008: Lakers 92, Celtics 83
Bryant scored 27 points with nine rebounds and five assists as L.A. exacted (regular season) revenge on the 2008-title-winning squad from Boston. In the meantime, L.A. ended the impressive 19-game Celtics’ winning streak.