“Kobe ah… he dunked on me. Ahhh. That’s when I realized I was still a rookie. I tried to just stand there. I thought he was gonna shoot a jump shot. He came down the lane and dunked it so hard and it was just like BOOM. And I don’t remember hearing nothing else but BOOM and then I heard ‘Ohh, wow!'”
Give Dwight Howard credit for being able to talk about it because if there was a definitive “Welcome to the NBA” moment over the past decade, this has to be in the conversation. It was the Magic’s sixth game of the season in Howard’s rookie year, and even though the big rookie in the middle would have 15 rebounds to help push Orlando to 4-2 by beating the Lakers 122-113, this game will forever be remembered for this dunk.
Bryant was in the midst of a 41-point night, yet was struggling to bring L.A. back from a 13-point deficit at the end of the third quarter. He used a screen from Lamar Odom, the lane opened up, and there was a 19-year-old kid standing there clueless underneath the rim. It was the first time anyone had ever dunked on the 6-11 Howard, and to this day remains one of the nastiest facials of the past decade.
Now the two are teammates, and while Bryant isn’t getting up like this anymore, Howard is now the most dominant big man in the game, and a perfect fit to help balance out L.A.’s aging roster. But still, how much money you want to bet that Bryant reminds his new center of this moment at least three times during the year’s first practice?
Of course, leave it up to Kobe to say, “I turned him into a Defensive Player of the Year.” Only this guy…
Can these two co-exist on the same team together?
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