Round: Western Conference Quarterfinals
Dates: April 23-May 6
Winner: Suns, 4-3
2006 belonged to Kobe Bryant. So did this series. Until he didn't want it anymore. Bryant averaged an astounding 35 points per game that year, shredding any defense put before him, single handedly dragging Los Angeles into the playoffs. But he knew as well as anyone that the seventh seeded Lakers would only prevail as a team.
Kobe acted as a facilitator early in the series, enabling surprising performances from Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown. Then he sunk two clutch baskets in Game 4 to give the Lakers a commanding 3-1 series lead. With a chance to wrap things up at home in game 6, Bryant racked up 50 points, but the Suns still emerged victorious. The opportunity was lost and apparently even Kobe knew it. In the most curious performance of his career, Bryant all but refused to shoot the ball as Phoenix buried L.A. by 31 in Game 7.