And then there was The Dunk. One of the greatest dunks of Kobe’s that I have ever seen! It was definitely the best of his #24 era, and one of his best period. He came down the lane and elevated with an explosiveness that we have only seen from Shannon Brown this year.
It was an extreme facial at Emeka Okafor’s expense and it completely changed the the complexion of the game. My jaw dropped in a comical way; I couldn’t stop exclaiming over it. Mamba Mode was in full force as Kobe went on to score 12 points in the second quarter and 19 overall.
As if that wasn’t enough to jolt the heart of Staples Center, Bryant had a second, absolutely nasty left handed dunk down the lane. He moved so fast and contorted his body at such an angle while he jammed that I was left speechless yet again. One afro-era dunk was crazy enough, but two?! It was easily as amazing as the first. Kevin Harlan on the TNT telecast said was everyone in Lakers Nation was thinking: “Kobe Bryant is looking very young and full of life.” Amen.
I’m really not sure what there is left to say about Kobe Bryant anymore except that I will never doubt him again. Like the rest of Lakers Nation, I was horrified in Game 4 by his ankle/foot injury. I cried. I saw our championship dreams and his career flash before my eyes. It seemed catastrophic in the worst way; even if the Lakers could get out of the first round without their superstar, they would not get much further without their leader.
It was encouraging that Kobe felt like he could play, although to his credit (and his detriment) I think he would play unless he was on his deathbed. His competitive fire is admirable and his will and force of nature to play for his team is incredible…. I just hope that he is not sacrificing his future for his present even though it seems like he might be. He is without a doubt the biggest warrior I have ever had the privilege to watch play basketball, and one of the most ruthless and driven competitors in sports.
Next: Hustle Ball
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