Did you really think the Black Mamba would leave without producing another, quintessentially Kobe moment? Well, think again!
In a 119-115 victory over Minnesota last night, Kobe Bryant completely turned back the hands of time, scoring a game-high 38 points to go along with 5 dimes and 5 rebounds. He joined Karl Malone and Michael Jordan as the only players in the last 30 years to post such numbers aged 37 and up.
Though Kobe’s stats were gaudy, the manner in which he scored (hit 7 threes, converted shots over multiple defenders, shot 48%) and the significance of the game made it all the more impressive.
Sure, an early February matchup between the 9-41 Lakers & 14-35 Timberwolves isn’t much to write home about but for Kobe, it marked an opportunity to put on a final showcase opposite one of the game’s rising stars: Andrew Wiggins.
Young Kobe, or Frobe as we like to call him, and Wiggins mirror each other in a number of ways. In a sense, the Mamba was battling against his former self of 17 years ago, in the form of Wiggins, a high-scoring, high-jumping, and highly skilled wing.
During the late stages of the game, Kobe and Wiggins traded tough buckets over each other. On one occasion, Wiggins posted up Kobe, on the left side, and carefully hid the rock before lifting a beautiful turnaround jumper.
The next trip down, Wiggins smiled and said, “I got that one from you.”
Kobe ended up finishing off the Wolves with a tough jumper under 30 ticks to go and after it was over, he had this to say:
“You’ve seen it for 20 damn years,” he said. “What are you impressed by?” (via ESPN.com)
A dominating performance leading the Lakers to victory, destruction of Sam Mitchell (yet again!), and a tinge of arrogance? Yup, the real Kobe Bryant made an appearance last night.
Each remaining game holds a certain level of significance for Bryant. This one included an unofficial passing of the torch to Wiggins in a fun battle where “experience” triumphed over “youth.”