Kobe gets best of Lebron at All Star Game
The NBA's All Star weekend has a little something for everyone.
For some players it's a chance to show off their skills, proving that they are an All-Star. For a majority of the league, it is a chance to kick back, get some rest heading in to the second half. And for the fans, it is a weekend of entertainment, watching their favorite players and celebrities come together for one giant celebration.
Despite all the premier parties, mingling of celebrities and general lavishness of the whole event, the best part of the entire weekend is the All-Star game. More specifically, the final six-eight minutes of the fourth quarter.
Not to say the first 40 minutes are not fun, but there is something special about the final minutes. With the game hanging in the balance, the starters return to the court and actually play defense, something that was not a factor in the earlier part of the game.
Albeit that defense in the All-Star game is softer than tissue paper, fans are given a small glimpse into what it would be like if these guys were all on the same team.
On Michael Jordan's 50th birthday, in the wake of some controversial comments by His Airness, a matchup of epic proportions emerged as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, potentially fueled by said comments, made the final minutes personal.
With 2:39 remaining and the East trailing the West 134-126, James pulls up for the 19-foot jumper but is swatted by the Black Mamba; Bryant's stifling defense results in Kevin Durant grabbing the defensive rebound and taking it to the hole for an emphatic slam dunk. The East was then down by 10.
With just under a minute to go and the East trailing 140-134, Bryant gets the steal off of James', which leads to a Blake Griffin dunk off the glass, assisted by Durant. The West lead by eight.
Only 13 seconds removed from James' turnover and Bryant strikes again with his second block of the night, swatting LBJ's five-foot jumper. The East get the offensive rebound, James takes another shot, still guarded by Bryant, but this time he draws the foul.
James goes to the line to shoot two free throws. He makes the first, but misses the second one.
The West goes on to win 144-138. They have won three-in-a-row against the East and four of the last five All Star games.
James scored just one point in the fourth quarter, which came with 35 seconds left in the game. The matchup between Bryant and James will be nothing short of legendary. James was thinking comeback from the second he reentered the game, but not on Bryant's watch.
James may have been in the league for 10 years now, but Bryant made him look like a rookie again. Blocking one of James' shots is no easy feat, but two blocks and a steal within two minutes over the reigning NBA champion and MVP? That does not happen. Ever.
Their body language in the final minutes told the story. James looked frustrated, upset and defeated. Bryant on the other hand looked cool, calm and collected, with a you-know-what-eating grin on his face that stretched from ear to ear.
Looks like Jordan was right after all. Five rings beats one ring.
Maybe MJ's comments sparked some competition on Sunday night. Bryant, whose Lakers will most likely miss the playoffs, might have used the venue to show that the Black Mamba is still the king. A much older, but more experienced Bryant shut down James in the fourth quarter, arguably the best player in the league.
However, maybe it is just speculation, fueled by a Hollywood vision of sports that has become so pervasive in the media today. Everything that someone says is seemingly over analyzed and used to promote a game for a much more dramatic effect.
Maybe James was just having an off game, but it is highly unlikely for a guy who scored 30+ points and shot over 60 percent from the field in six straight games before the All Star break would be so rusty.
Bryant clearly wanted it more and it makes you question what is a more important for an NBA legacy. Is it the Black Mamba's killer instinct and competitive attitude or is it LBJ's athleticism and unmatched skill set?
Regardless of what you think makes either one of them a better player, one thing is for certain. The final minutes of the 2013 All Star game will be remembered as one of the greatest late game battles in its 62 year history.
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