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Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bean Bryant ( KOH-bee; August 23, 1978 – January 26, 2020) was an American professional basketball player. A shooting guard, he spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bryant won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), and a two-time NBA Finals MVP. Bryant also led the NBA in scoring twice, and ranks fourth in league all-time regular season and postseason scoring. He was posthumously voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020 and named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021. The son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, he was born in Philadelphia and partly raised in Italy. Recognized as the top American high-school basketball player while at Philadelphia suburb Lower Merion, Bryant declared for the 1996 NBA draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick; he was then traded to the Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned a reputation as a high-flyer by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and was named an All-Star by his second season. Despite a feud with teammate Shaquille O'Neal, the pair led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. In 2003, Bryant was charged with sexual assault; with the alleged victim being a 19 year old hotel employee. Criminal charges were later dropped after the accuser failed to testify, and a lawsuit was settled out of court, with Bryant issuing a public apology and admitting to a sexual encounter he maintained was consensual.

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LeBron James

LeBron Raymone James Sr. (; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nicknamed "King James", he is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time and is often compared to Michael Jordan in debates over the greatest basketball player ever. James has won four NBA championships, four NBA MVP awards, four NBA Finals MVP awards, three All-Star MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals. James has scored the most points in the playoffs, the second most career points, and has the seventh most career assists. He has been selected an NBA All-Star 18 times, to the All-NBA Team a record 18 times, and to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times. He has competed in ten NBA Finals, the third most all time, including eight consecutively between 2011 and 2018. In 2021, James was selected to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, and in 2022 became the first player in NBA history to accumulate 10,000 or more career points, rebounds, and assists.James played basketball for St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and was heavily touted by the national media as a future NBA superstar.

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List of NBA champions

The National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals is the championship series for the NBA held at the conclusion of its postseason. All Finals have been played in a best-of-seven format, and are contested between the winners of the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference (formerly Divisions before 1970), except in 1950 when the Eastern Division champion faced the winner between the Western and Central Division champions. From 1946 through 1949, when the league was known as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the playoffs were a three-stage tournament where the two semifinal winners played each other in the finals. The winning team of the series receives the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.The current home-and-away format in the NBA Finals is 2–2–1–1–1 (the team with the better regular-season record plays on its home court in Games 1, 2, 5, and 7), which has been used in 1947–1948, 1950–1952, 1957–1970, 1972–1974, 1976–1977, 1979–1984, and 2014–present. It was previously in a 2–3–2 format (the team with the better regular season record plays on its home court in Games 1, 2, 6, and 7) during 1949, 1953–1955, and 1985–2013, in a 1–1–1–1–1–1–1 format during 1956 and 1971, and in a 1–2–2–1–1 format during 1975 and 1978.As of 2022, the Eastern Conference/Division led the Western Conference/Division 40–35 in championships won. As of 2022, the Boston Celtics and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers have won a combined total of 34 NBA championships (with 17 apiece). As of 2022, the defending champions are the Golden State Warriors.

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Michael Jordan

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963), also known by his initials MJ, is an American businessman and former professional basketball player. He played fifteen seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), winning six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls. Jordan is the principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA and of 23XI Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. His biography on the official NBA website states: "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." He was integral in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming a global cultural icon in the process.Jordan played college basketball for three seasons under coach Dean Smith with the North Carolina Tar Heels. As a freshman, he was a member of the Tar Heels' national championship team in 1982. Jordan joined the Bulls in 1984 as the third overall draft pick, and quickly emerged as a league star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring while gaining a reputation as one of the game's best defensive players. His leaping ability, demonstrated by performing slam dunks from the free-throw line in Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness". Jordan won his first NBA title with the Bulls in 1991, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a three-peat. Jordan abruptly retired from basketball before the 1993–94 NBA season to play Minor League Baseball but returned to the Bulls in March 1995 and led them to three more championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998, as well as a then-record 72 regular season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. He retired for the second time in January 1999 but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards.Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include six NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, ten NBA scoring titles (both all-time records), five NBA MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game selections, three NBA All-Star Game MVP awards, three NBA steals titles, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.

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NBA Finals

The NBA Finals is the annual championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Eastern and Western conference champions play a best-of-seven game series to determine the league champion. The team that wins the series is awarded the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, which replaced the original Walter A. Brown Trophy in 1977, though under the same name. The series was initially known as the BAA Finals prior to the 1949–50 season when the Basketball Association of America (BAA) merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the NBA. The competition oversaw further name changes to NBA World Championship Series from 1950 to 1985, as well as a brief stint as the Showdown, before settling on NBA Finals in 1986. Since 2018, it has been officially known as the NBA Finals presented by YouTube TV for sponsorship reasons.The NBA Finals was initially structured in a 2–2–1–1–1 format. In 1985, to ease the amount of cross-country travel, it was changed to a 2–3–2 format, in which the first two and last two games of the series were played at the arena of the team who earned home-court advantage by having the better record during the regular season. In 2014, the 2–2–1–1–1 format was restored. This team hosts the first two games and the other team hosts the next two games. If needed, the remaining three are played at each team's home arena alternately.A total of 19 franchises have won the NBA Finals, with the Golden State Warriors winning the most recent title in 2022. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics hold the record for the most victories, having both won the competition 17 times.

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NBA G League

The NBA G League, or simply the G League, is the National Basketball Association's (NBA) official minor league basketball organization. The league was known as the National Basketball Development League (NBDL) from 2001 to 2005, and the NBA Development League (NBA D-League) from 2005 until 2017. The league started with eight teams until NBA commissioner David Stern announced a plan to expand the NBA D-League to fifteen teams and develop it into a true minor league farm system, with each NBA D-League team affiliated with one or more NBA teams in March 2005. At the conclusion of the 2013–14 NBA season, 33% of NBA players had spent time in the NBA D-League, up from 23% in 2011. As of the 2020–21 season, the league consists of 30 teams, 28 of which are either single-affiliated or owned by an NBA team, along with the NBA G League Ignite exhibition team. In the 2017–18 season, Gatorade became the title sponsor of the D-League, and it was renamed the NBA G League.

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NBA Most Valuable Player Award

The National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given since the 1955–56 season to the best performing player of the regular season. The winner receives the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, which is named in honor of the first commissioner (then president) of the NBA, who served from 1946 until 1963. Until the 1979–80 season, the MVP was selected by a vote of NBA players. Since the 1980–81 season, the award is decided by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Each member of the voting panel casts a vote for first to fifth place selections. Each first-place vote is worth 10 points; each second-place vote is worth seven; each third-place vote is worth five, fourth-place is worth three and fifth-place is worth one. Starting from 2010, one ballot was cast by fans through online voting. The player with the highest point total wins the award. As of the 2021–22 season, the current holder of the award is Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets. Jokić is the lowest draft pick to win the award, being selected 41st by Denver in the 2014 NBA draft.

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NBA draft

The NBA draft is an annual event dating back to 1947 in which the teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can draft players who are eligible and wish to join the league. These are typically college basketball players, but international players are also eligible to be drafted. College players who have finished their four-year college eligibility are automatically eligible for selection, while the underclassmen have to declare their eligibility and give up their remaining college eligibility. International players who are at least 22 years old are automatically eligible for selection, while the players younger than 22 have to declare their eligibility. Players who are not automatically eligible but have declared their eligibility are often called "early-entrants" or "early-entry candidates". The draft usually takes place near the end of June, during the NBA offseason. Since 1989, the draft has consisted of two rounds; this is much shorter than the entry drafts of the other major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, all of which run at least seven rounds. Sixty players are selected in each draft. No player may sign with the NBA until he has been eligible for at least one draft.In the past, high school players were also eligible to be selected. However, starting in the 2006 draft, high school players were not eligible to enter the draft directly after graduating from high school.

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National Basketball Association

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in North America. The league is composed of 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada) and is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. It is the premier men's professional basketball league in the world.The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). It changed its name to the National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with the competing National Basketball League (NBL). In 1976, the NBA and the American Basketball Association (ABA) merged, adding four franchises to the NBA. The NBA's regular season runs from October to April, with each team playing 82 games. The league's playoff tournament extends into June. As of 2020, NBA players are the world's best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.The NBA is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The league's several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices in Midtown Manhattan, while its NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey. In North America, the NBA is the third wealthiest professional sport league after the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) by revenue, and among the top four in the world.The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are tied with the most NBA championships at 17 each. The Golden State Warriors are the defending league champions, as they defeated the Boston Celtics 4–2 in the 2022 NBA Finals.

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Stephen Curry

Wardell Stephen Curry II ( STEF-ən; born March 14, 1988) is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and as the greatest shooter in NBA history, Curry is credited with revolutionizing the sport by inspiring teams and players to shoot far more three-point shots. An eight-time NBA All-Star and eight-time All-NBA selection, including four times on the first team, he has been named the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice, has won four NBA championships, and received an NBA Finals MVP Award and an NBA All-Star Game MVP Award. Curry is the son of former NBA player Dell Curry and the older brother of current NBA player Seth Curry. He played college basketball for the Davidson Wildcats, where he set career scoring records for Davidson and the Southern Conference, was twice named conference player of the year, and set the single-season NCAA record during his sophomore year for most three-pointers made. Curry was selected by the Warriors with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. In 2014–15, Curry won his first league MVP award and led the Warriors to their first championship since 1975. The following season, he became the first NBA player to be elected MVP by unanimous vote as well as the first to lead the league in scoring while shooting above 50–40–90. That same year, the Warriors broke the record for the most wins in an NBA season en route to reaching the 2016 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games. Curry helped the Warriors return to the NBA Finals in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2022, winning back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, being defeated by the Toronto Raptors in 2019.

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