The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2012-13 season had been a disappointing one as Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash struggled to come together and play consistently at a high level. But Kobe remained motivated to push the team to the playoffs and as if he needed any more motivation going into the Lakers’ game against the Dallas Mavericks, owner Mark Cuban gave him some anyway.
In 2011, the NBA introduced an amnesty clause that would allow every team the opportunity to release one player and completely clear them from their salary cap. The player would still receive their salary, but the team would get some cap flexibility. With the Lakers struggling that season, the always outspoken Cuban suggested that the Lakers should consider using the provision on Bryant.
Insert Michael Jordan “And I took that personally” meme here.
No one is quite sure why Cuban thought it was a good idea to make such a suggestion right before Kobe was set to enter the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Feb. 24, 2023. But the Lakers legend made sure he regretted it.
Bryant finished with 38 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists as the Lakers left Dallas with a 103-99 victory. In the fourth quarter, Kobe went a perfect 5-of-5 from the field for 14 points, with seven of those coming in the last three minutes, along with an assist on a Nash 3-pointer, to help ice the game.
But Kobe left his greatest shot for after the game as he went on his Twitter page and sent a very direct message at Cuban:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) February 24, 2013
Much like his idol Jordan, Kobe was someone who could find any reason for motivation to absolutely dominate a player or a team and he didn’t have to look hard in this instance. While Cuban’s may have made some sense on paper, and when thinking about the average player, those types of rules simply don’t apply when it comes to the likes of Kobe Bryant.
This contest was the Lakers’ third consecutive win and Bryant would continue to prove that even in his 17th NBA season, he was still the standard bearer of the league who could dominate any team on any given night. Kobe would continue like this throughout the remainder of the season, putting out unbelievable performance after unbelievable performance until his body literally couldn’t take it anymore, all for the purpose of getting the Lakers to the postseason.
Kobe made a career out of making people eat their words and Mark Cuban learned that the hard way on this day.
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