Kobe Bryant ‘the Black Mamba’ was the hardest worker in the NBA. His adaptability in the court was one of his redeeming features. His thirst for victory is what made him a deadly opponent to face. He strikes fear into the heart of his opponents and jubilation for the Laker’s fans.
The challenging years and the lesson learnt
However, for most of his he had the stigma of being a robin to Shaq. The Media and the rest of the league called him a ball hog because of him not passing to his teammates. But, the Mamba did not have anyone to call as a 2nd option due to which he would take high volume shots.
That changed after the arrival of Pau Gasol in the Lakers. Kobe finally had someone he could rely on, so he made passes to his teammates and got them riled up for the championship run. In the 2008-09 campaign, the Lakers met the Orlando Magic in the Finals. What happened in the series changed the perception of Kobe as a player.
In Game 4 of the NBA Finals, with just 40 seconds left in the 4th quarter and down 5 points, Kobe drove in against 3 defenders spun and gave a behind the back pass to Pau Gasol for the slam. That play was the turning point in the series as the Lakers would win 2 more games to lift the Championship.
JJ Redick’s comments
JJ Redick, a former NBA player who played for the Orlando Magic during their ’09 title run had the opportunity to play against Kobe and witness one of the greatest plays of his career. He talks about this moment in the podcast of ‘The Old Man And The Three’
He said, “That, to me, was the play. Cause if we had just run the clock another 10 seconds, you guys would have had to foul. Instead, we get the ball, get it to Dwight, he misses the two free-throws, which sets up Derek’s three-pointer. That pass, to me, was one of the greatest plays that Kobe Bryant made in his career. I know that sounds crazy but I really believe that.”
“It was definitely a great play and it was one of his best plays, I will agree with that. It was an NBA Finals that gave him and the Lakers another Championship. It was a critical play, I do agree with that. In that moment we were down 5 and it made such a huge difference.”
“It was a high level of skill play and unselfishness. He could have shot that. He could have challenged the defenders. But he made the right play, which speaks very very highly of him as a player.”
This showed Kobe’s dedication to the game and his hunger for winning. After years of battling alone, Kobe made the play which he felt would give him the win and that is the reason why he earned his championship. After all Basketball is a game of 5 players and the team with the better 5 always wins.