Two of the world’s best players from the 2000s era of the NBA just so happen to have jersey retirement games coming up later this season. Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant will have his jersey retired just one full season after his final, memorable NBA game, on Monday, December 18 when the Lakers play the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center. Just two months later, Paul “The Truth” Pierce will return to TD Garden in Boston to have his jersey retired by the Celtics on February 11, 2018 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Two future Hall of Fame players. Two iconic franchises. Two well-deserved, memorable nights. While we’re on the subject of Kobe and Pierce, we’d be remiss not to discuss some of the other memorable nights involving these two players. Over the years, they provided some amazing additions to the decades-long rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics. Here are our picks for five of the best games from the Kobe vs. Pierce era.

#1. February 26, 2006

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles

Context: Pre-KG era Boston (22-33) vs. Kobe and, well, Lamar Odom (28-27)

Amidst his nine-game 40-plus-point streak, Kobe faced off against Pierce and a struggling Boston team that features a late-stage Wally Szczerbiak and Ryan Gomes playing more than 40 minutes. The Lakers didn’t have a much better roster, relying mostly on Kobe, Lamar Odom, and 30-plus minutes from Brian Cook and Smush Parker.

Perhaps one of the best combined shooting performances in a Kobe-Pierce game, the two players posted a total of 79 points (40 for Kobe, 39 for Pierce) while each shooting over 47% from the field.

Coming down to the wire, Pierce had an opportunity to seal the win at the free throw line. He made the first but missed the second, giving Kobe a three-point opportunity to win the game. Luckily for Boston, he missed and the Celtics escaped with a 112-111 win in what was one of the few highlights of a 33-49 season.

Game 5, 2010 NBA Finals

Where: TD Garden, Boston

Context: Series Tied 2-2

Throughout this whole series, everything about Kobe’s demeanor made you think, “Man, there’s no way he’s going home without a title this year.” After a 2008 Finals that saw Boston hoist the trophy in six games, including an amazing 24-point comeback in game three, Bryant was out for revenge.

Game five of the 2010 Finals was one for the ages, featuring fantastic performances from both Kobe and Pierce. In just shy of 43 minutes of action, Pierce went 12-for-21 from the field (57.1%) and finished with 27 points while not committing a single turnover. Kobe went toe-to-toe with him all game, finishing with a 38-5-4 stat line.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Kobe’s wonderful shooting performance was hampered by a less than stellar night from his supporting cast, who rarely got the ball in effective scoring positions. With both KG and Rondo putting up 18 for Boston, the Celtics had the edge and took the game 92-86.

Game 4, 2008 NBA Finals

Where: Staples Center

Context: Boston Leads Series 2-1

In what would turn out to be the catalyst that propelled Boston to the 2008 championship, game four of the Finals started out looking like everything but that. The Lakers jumped out to a 35-14 lead after the first quarter and went up as many as 24 points. Thanks to a second half that included a 31-15 third quarter in favor of the Celtics, Boston mounted a historic comeback and won the game 97-91.

It wasn’t exactly an iconic performance from either Kobe or Pierce, but they both played huge parts down the stretch. Kobe posted 10 points in the fourth and Pierce added seven, including two big free throws with 46.8 seconds left. On this night, Bryant finished with 19 on an unimpressive 6-19 (31.6%) from the field, while Pierce put up 20 on 6-13 (46.2%).

With much of the momentum in Boston’s favor, the Celtics lost a close game five, but closed out the series in game six at TD Garden, giving Paul Pierce his first championship ring.

Christmas Day, 2008

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles

Context: Celtics (27-2) vs. Lakers (23-5)

By Christmas Day, 2008, you could almost see the writing on the wall. The season was going to end in a second straight Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals series. [Surprisingly, it ended in a Magic-Lakers Finals, but I digress]

The 2008 NBA Finals rematch on Christmas Day lived up to the hype. Boston had lost just twice in its first 29 games, while the Lakers were off to a wonderful 23-5 start. The game was back-and-forth for the entire four quarters. Boston took a 24-23 lead after one and the Lakers took a six-point lead into the half. Boston cut it to two with less than two minutes to go before the Lakers closed out the game on a 7-0 run.

Pierce had another efficient scoring performance, posting 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting (53.8%) and 2-of-4 from behind the arc. He added in 10 rebounds, giving him a Christmas Day double-double.

Bryant was even better, shooting 56.5% from the field (13-of-23), finishing with 27 points. He added in nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double himself.

Game 7, 2010 NBA Finals

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles

Context: Series Tied 3-3

In one of the strangest, low-scoring game sevens of the era, the Celtics looked to bounce back after a 22-point drubbing in game six. With the momentum clearly in the Lakers’ favor, it was no easy task. However, after jumping out to a 23-14 lead after the first quarter, Boston looked like a team that could get it done and win the championship on the road. However, the Lakers quickly righted the ship and won each of the next three quarters, winning 83-79 and hoisting the trophy.

The most memorable aspect of this game was the shooting performances from Kobe and The Truth. They were both horrendous, especially Bryant’s. In 45 minutes of action, Pierce finished with 18 points on 5-of-15 from the field. He did add 10 rebounds, giving him a solid double-double. It was Kobe that was most surprising, shooting an abysmal 6-of-24 (25%) from the field. He finished with a 23-point, 15-rebound double-double but his poor shooting was maligned by many throughout the media.

Yet, no fan or member of the Lakers complained, as the Lakers won their second straight ring.

The NBA and its fans were blessed to have two players like Kobe and Pierce to help continue the iconic Lakers-Celtics rivalry throughout the 2000s. These players are gone from the league, but they’ll surely never be forgotten.

If you’re trying to get to either of these jersey retirement games, browse tickets to the Lakers game here and the Celtics game here.

Note: All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference