Kobe Bryant played with these NBA stars over his 20 year career

Spanning a 20 year career, Kobe Bryant only played with the LA Lakers. In these 20 years, he played with a large number of other NBA stars. The Fanatics player network in the Six Degrees of the NBA is showing 142 players Kobe has played with. How many can you name without looking at the network below?

Six Degrees of Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is undeniably one of the best players currently playing. He is a five-time NBA champion, 17-time NBA All-Star, 11-time All-NBA First Team member, and two-time Olympic gold medalist. Bryant’s recent retirement announcement has caused stirs throughout the league and especially in Los Angeles, where Bryant has been the cornerstone of the Lakers for two decades.

Despite being drafted for the Charlotte Hornets, Bryant played only for the Lakers, making him the current record holder for the longest stint playing on a single team. Over 20 seasons, Bryant has been on the roster with 142 players. Besides his long tenure as a Lakers starter, Bryant’s two terms on the American Olympics men’s basketball team and repeated All-Star appearances helped to make him a well-known face in the league – although the node graph only considered relationships through official NBA play. The majority of Bryant’s connections are first-order, or directly connected to him.


Using NBA roster data from Basketball-Reference.com, we created a data set containing each player’s name, the team he played for, and the year he played for that team. If he played for multiple years or multiple teams, each pairing counted separately. With 4,336 players on 104 teams, we were left with 23,919 player and team pairs over 70 seasons.

The second data set matched players who played together. This yielded 181,886 player-to-player pairs over 70 seasons. Players who were involved in trades for each other are listed as having played together.

Using Gephi, we built models and set up the entire NBA graph in a timeline to emphasize that players who played together in the 1950s tend to cluster together with one another and not with players who played together in the 1990s.

Colors are the result of clustering at a higher level, where players of one “color group” associate mostly with each other, and not as much with other groups. For example, for Michael Jordan, you can see his time with the Bulls separated into two distinct color groups (yellow and red) where players intersect but played more times with other members of their group. The third group shows his time with the Wizards (green) where most of the group is separated from other players in Jordan’s social network.

See the other posts in this series:




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