The grit and determination of Kobe Bryant were on display countless times throughout his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Whether battling through an injury, fatigue, or a sickness, Bryant had that work ethic and demeanor that was not afraid of any challenge.
On Jan. 11, 2008, Los Angeles geared up for a battle at Staples Center against the Milwaukee Bucks. Phil Jackson and the Lakers were hardly 100 percent, as Bryant was suffering from a respiratory infection.
However, Bryant was able to play through the issue and demonstrate the characteristics that paved the way towards his soon-to-be Hall-of-Fame career.
Budding on the cusp of another championship run, the Lakers were in the midst of playoff contention, with a starting lineup that featured Bryant, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Luke Walton.
Bryant was hot from the get-go, scoring 16 points in the first quarter. That set the tone for a strong Lakers start, as they held a 29-22 lead going into the second quarter.
From there, Mo Williams and the Bucks would mount their comeback, outscoring the Lakers by three and trailing by four points going into halftime. The Bucks, with a 5-16 road record at the time, were working on a possible upset, only to get the notion shut down by Bryant.
The third quarter was more of the even battle, with each team scoring 24 points. Bryant would conclude the contest with the same aggressive approach he began it with, helping seal the victory.
He dropped 16 points in the fourth, just like he did in the first, to help seal the 110-105 win.
Bryant finished the contest with 37 points on 12-for-25 shooting, along with five rebounds, two steals, and seven assists. Bynum contributed 25 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.
The viral upper respiratory infection wasn’t enough to stop Bryant, even when he looked affected on the bench. Gasping for air during his minutes on the bench, he would throw his towel over his head as a way to calm him down and help him refocus.
Following the win, Bryant stated the difficult part was playing through the sickness. He described himself as feeling weak, attempting to focus and find a rhythm in order to null the way his body was reacting.
Playing through sickness in the NBA is no easy task, with many famous moments like Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” coming to surface.
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