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Farewell, Kobe: A Look At Black Mamba's Career In 24 Photos

By Scott Guthrie | April 13, 2016, 2:09 p.m. (ET)

When Kobe Bryant laces up his sneakers, pulls on his yellow and purple jersey and takes the court at the Staples Center Wednesday night, it will mark the end of an era. Bryant, 37, has been the face of the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA for the past 20 years. 

He was drafted to the Lakers out of high school in 1996 and took the league by storm. Now, five NBA championships, four All-Star Game MVPs, two NBA Finals MVPs, two scoring titles, two Olympic gold medals and one league MVP later, Bryant is calling quits. 

To honor the man known as "Black Mamba" and who wears jersey No. 24, we take a look at his career in 24 photos. 

1) Kobe Bryant was drafted out of high school in 1996.

2) He started his career sporting a small Afro and wearing No. 8.

3) Bryant reached his first of seven NBA Finals in 2000. 

4) The Lakers beat the Pacers, and Bryant got his first ring. 

5) In 2001, Bryant and the Lakers returned to the NBA Finals.

6) The Lakers won, giving Bryant two rings in as many years.

7) As Bryant kept winning, his popularity continued to grow.

8) In 2002 he was aiming for a third straight title.

9) Bryant led the Lakers to the NBA Finals against the Nets.

10) The Lakers won, successfully completing the three-peat.

11) Bryant also won his first NBA All-Star Game MVP in 2002. 

12) He was named to his second NBA All-Defensive Team in 2003.

13) Bryant is known for occasionally giving the refs a hard time.

14) And for having fun while on the bench.

15) In 2006 Bryant changed from No. 8 to No. 24.

16) Also in 2006, Bryant scored 81 points in a single game. 

17) In 2008 Bryant won his first gold medal with Team USA.

18) He also won his only NBA MVP award in 2008.

19) Bryant secured his fourth NBA championship in 2009.

20) And in 2010 he won his fifth and final NBA title. 

21) Bryant won another gold medal with Team USA in 2012.

22) In December 2015, Bryant announced he was retiring.

23) This season has turned into Bryant's official farewell tour.

24) His final game is Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz.

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Kobe Bryant