Of all the times Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade matched up throughout their careers, perhaps none is remembered most than the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. History was made, as Wade committed the first and only flagrant foul in the event’s history.
With the Eastern Conference trailing in the third quarter, Wade wanted to foul to Bryant in effort to begin setting the more serious tone the All-Star Game eventually takes on. But as Bryant spun baseline and gathered for a layup attempt, Wade’s arms came crashing down on his face.
The foul bloodied Bryant’s nose, though me managed to remain in the game. He finished with 27 points and applied defensive pressure on LeBron James to help the Western Conference hang on for 152-149 victory.
Bryant was taken for medical examination after the game, and it was then determined he suffered a broken nose as a result of the foul. Bryant later was diagnosed with a concussion. Wade said that evening he apologized to Bryant and sent a get-well message.
But now more background has come to light. During the “Dwyane Wade & Kevin Garnett: Players Only” episode, Wade revealed details of a follow-up conversation he had with Bryant, via TNT:
“Me and Kob’, we got into a little tussle in the All-Star Game and then I ended up hitting him the wrong way and broke his nose. … So after All-Star break, we’ve got the Lakers about three games after the break. I called him and I said, ‘Yo, Kob’,’ he was like, ‘Bro, I love it.’ I’m like, you what? He’s like, ‘I love it. I’ll see you in a couple days.’ So I was like oh snap. And he gave it to me too, boy.”
That Bryant wound enjoy some physicality in an exhibition setting is hardly a surprise. His competitive drive was regularly on display during his 18 career All-Star Game selections.
Wade is also correct in remembering that Bryant exacted some revenge against the Miami Heat, though the five-time champion denied having any extra motivation. Wearing a protective mask in just the third game after the All-Star break, Bryant torched the heat for 33 points in a 93-83 victory for the Lakers.
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