For Kobe Bryant every challenge on the court is a welcomed one. Few players take All-Star exhibitions as seriously as Mamba. But what else would you expect from a man more driven than the 405? Entering tonight’s contest in Orlando Bryant needed 19 points to pass Michael Jordan as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the NBA All-Star game.
Kobe got out of the gate quickly and his third-quarter throw down threw MJ in the rearview.
On the evening Bryant amassed 27-points, second on the West to MVP Kevin Durant, in helping lead the Western Conference to a thrilling 152-149 victory. For good measure KB24 kept this contest close in the clutch too.
The East was looking dead in the water until a stunning surge in fourth made this one a nail biter late. Perhaps with the memory of those almost costly free throw misses in Dallas mere days earlier in the week still fresh in his mind Bryant had a chance to take some drama out of this close contest. Kobe stepped to the line with the West clinging to two point lead. His first free throw found the bottom of the net with no worries. The second one came up short and gave the East a sliver of hope.
Luckily LeBron James still hasn’t figured out how to close out contests when the spotlight is brightest. The self-proclaimed King threw a bad pass that led to the game ending turnover. Yeah…a post praising Kobe has officially devolved into a LeBron bash.
Back to Bryant…
Kobe was highly efficient on this historic evening. He didn’t stuff the stat sheet as he had as many fouls (2) as his rebound and assist total combined. However Mamba was a lethal 9 of 17 from the field and missed just one of his 8 free throws. That one miss was memorable but in the grand scheme it did little to sully another historic moment for perhaps the greatest to ever play the game.