When: 2008

OK, so after the 81-point game we all knew Kobe was a bad man and could be the alpha male on a squad without Shaq. What evaded him, however, was team success with him as said alpha male. In '06-'07, he was scoring at an incredible rate, but got the first-round L from Phoenix and it had him calling out people in the offseason. The next season, though, the Lakers made a trade that at the time was seen as highway robbery which sent Kwame Brown, Javaris "Guns Up" Crittenton, Aaron McKie, and the rights for Marc Gasol for Pau Gasol.

Batman got his Robin and the Lakers went from barely making the playoffs to 57 wins and a Finals appearance. Kobe didn't put up the numbers he did the year before, but he was still amazing and the team brought the Lakers back to prominence. The next year he'd get that elusive first ring without Shaq, but this year set up his second title run.