Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has plenty of memorable moments throughout his career, but one that continues to stand the test of time, especially in this age of social media, is the ball fake incident involving then-Orlando Magic forward Matt Barnes.
As most remember, in a game between the Magic and Lakers, Barnes went to take the ball out from under the basket. But when the referee gave him the ball he immediately faked a pass right in the face of Kobe, who didn’t flinch at all.
Barnes recently appeared on the In the Zone podcast with Chris Broussard and detailed exactly what led to the incident:
“The ball fake thing. That was a crazy game, because that was a really good game. It was towards the end of the season, we were going back and forth, but he was just on his Kobe [expletive]. Elbowing me and grabbing me, doing dirty things. The refs weren’t calling it and it was pissing me off. So I was to the point where, like, ‘OK. We’re about to fight.’ It’s just what it was.”
When it came to the fake itself, Barnes insists that had no intentions on doing it, but he was extremely impressed that Kobe didn’t move:
“When I took the ball out, if you watch me, it wasn’t premeditated or nothing. I don’t even know where it came from. I just really ball faked. But if you watch me, I was looking at Vince come off this pick because I’m trying to hit Vince backdoor on our inbounds play. But for some reason, I guess my arms had a thing of their own, they faked it. Once everything happened and I saw the film and saw it came within eyelashes of him, and he didn’t flinch, I was like, ‘That’s a cold boy right there.’”
It truly defies logic that Kobe didn’t flinch with the ball mere inches from his face. But he seemingly was just so focused that it didn’t even register. But in the end, Kobe looked at this incident as a reason why he would want Barnes as a teammate, calling him personally to recruit him to join the Lakers.
Thanks to things like Youtube and Twitter, the image of Kobe not flinching will likely live on forever. Somehow in a career full of unbelievable moments, this one continues to stand out.
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