For one night, at least, Kobe Bryant was his old self.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend poured in 38 points on 7-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc while leading his woebegone team to a 119-115 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. Maybe even better than watching the future Hall of Famer catch fire, though, was witnessing an old-school duel that materialized with Andrew Wiggins that recalled so many mano-a-mano battles of yesteryear between he and an opposing star.
The Minnesota Timberwolves sophomore did his best to keep pace with Mamba down the stretch, scoring 18 of his 30 points in the second half to bring his young squad almost all the way back from a double-digit deficit at intermission. Wiggins ended up falling just short, but provided Bryant and basketball fans across the globe with a glorious moment by draining a very familiar fadeaway over his predecessor in crunch time.
What exactly was it the smiling 20 year old said to the five-time champion as they made their way toward the other end? We’ll let a glowing Bryant explain.
Games like Tuesday’s are fleeting for the 37 year old future retiree. In fact, it’s fair to assume we may never see Bryant reach that incredible level of shot-making again. But there will be so much for everyone to appreciate over the final three months of his storied career nonetheless, as last night’s figurative passing of the torch made abundantly clear.