Now, here we are, two summers later. Kobe Bryant has added two championships and two NBA Final MVP awards to his trophy case.
And yet, much is still made of the decisive Game 7 in which Kobe went 8-24. (Followers of me on Twitter will note the many lamentations I had during this performance). They look at that and say, “He’ll never be Jordan.”
Nobody notes that Kobe Bryant, in the last three years: Run to the NBA Finals, Olympic Gold Medalist, Championship run, followed by another championship run. Kobe missed 5 games in that span. Five. He’s also playing with a broken index finger (the trigger finger) that may never be the same again, as well as basically playing on one knee. Because Kobe is such a warrior, people tend to take this for granted.
(A quick aside, this summer, while mowing, I sliced my right hand’s index finger open (yes, on a mower, save the jokes about my idiocy, I’m well aware) and it required 13 stitches and a splint, much like Kobe Bryant wore all season. That thing affected my BEER PONG shot and turned my God-awful basketball jump shot into probably the worst jump shot since the NBA was made up of primarily white guys who were chain smoking Marlboro Reds. Words cannot describe how it affected my handling/shooting. People really don’t understand the difficulty Kobe is fighting through when wearing something like that).
Kobe had a bad Game 7, but when the Lakers needed buckets and free throws to close the Celtics out–there was Mr. Bryant. Handling his business like usual. After the game, he admitted to feeling the bone-crushing pressure that had been placed on him during the Finals, a moment of honesty that reminds you the guy is indeed human.