The late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant made multiple visits to the Drew League, including attending their championship game in 2018, but that paled in comparison to when the five-time champion electrified on the court in 2011.
With the NBA facing a 2011 lockout, summer basketball and pickup games became mainstream for several of the league’s stars. Kevin Durant in particular was active in the grassroots scene, and LeBron James got involved by playing in a Drew League game.
Durant had also played games in Los Angeles. That fueled calls for Bryant to make an appearance in his local community, and when that moment came, he didn’t disappoint.
Bryant participated in a Drew League pick-up game that other NBA players — James Harden, Nick Young, Paul George and Trevor Ariza — also were part of. The afternoon at Colonel Leon H. Washington Park quickly became remembered for the duel Bryant and Harden engaged in.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) August 12, 2018
Nine years ago: Kobe Bryant played his first game at the Drew League.
His team was down late in the 4th quarter and an officer tried to get him to leave early. Kobe said, “I gotta finish the game,” then hit a game winner at the buzzer ????
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 16, 2020
They traded baskets, with Harden actually outscoring Bryant, 47-44, but it was Bryant who had the last laugh. With the game tied and the crowd chanting “Kobe!” Bryant walked the ball up the court and signaled for an isolation on Harden as the clock ticked down.
After working his way over to the right side of the court, Bryant used a hesitation dribble to get to the top of the key where he drilled a patented fadeaway over Harden’s outstretched arm to beat the buzzer.
Bryant threw his arms into the air and was immediately mobbed by adoring fans. The highlight, although not with the Lakers, is nonetheless a memorable ‘Mamba Moment.’
Nike remembering Kobe with “Mamba Week”
Nike officially announced plans to honor Bryant’s legacy with the release of his design of the Lakers’ City Edition jersey, along with multiple pairs of the Kobe 5 Protro. Dubbed “Mamba Week,” the products begin releasing Sunday, Aug. 23.
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