DimeMag

Kobe And LeBron Showed Off Everything That Makes Them Special In This Classic Two-Minute Duel

Everyone was hoping this would happen. In Kobe Bryant’s final game matched up against LeBron James, we all just wanted to see the future Hall-of-Fame superstars give it one last mano a mano battle. With two minutes remaining in the first half, that’s exactly what happened. The result was a back-and-forth campaign that did more than sate any superstar-starved fans in attendance.

And don’t forget, Kobe got LeBron before this even started, so you know the self-proclaimed Cavs King was game.

Kobe started the actual duel off with a trademark fadeaway from the right block after backing LeBron — and that 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame — down into position. (So many “duels” are something else entirely, but this two-minute window matches the word perfectly.) Kobe’s baseline turn for the shot was…MJ-esque, as embarrassing as it is for a hoop fan born in the early ’80s to admit.

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LeBron came right back, though, and hit a 3-pointer from the far corner after getting lost on a switch.

But that was only their opening salvo. Kobe — this time matched up against J.R. Smith — executed another flawless bit of footwork on a turnaround from the left elbow. The way he dekes toward the sideline before pivoting toward his left shoulder is a study in mid-range excellence, and yes we’re starting to get annoyed with how we sound, too, but these are all-time players in a historic moment, so forgive us this bit of purple prose. (People liked The Deerslayer, despite Twain’s totally fair critiques)

Then LeBron did Bean nasty. A barely-there Matthew Dellavedova screen, followed by a hesitation dribble from LeBron, led to a right-handed flush where Kobe showed all of his 37 years and 55,000-plus minutes on an NBA hardwood.

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LeBron let him hear about it on the other end, too.

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But you see how Vino immediately started jockeying for position as LeBron was chirping in his ear? We love that. That’s Kobe in a nutshell. This was fun for the fans, but for Kobe the war imagery that naturally predominates sportswriting metaphors — mainly bad ones — actually makes sense.

After LeBron locked him out of his post position and showed on the pick, Kobe moved over to a spot beyond the arc and his ensuing 3-pointer offered a maraschino cherry on top of a delightful sundae they put together for fans.

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There really couldn’t have been a better ending between two amazing talents, even if the game wasn’t nearly as much fun in the other 46 minutes.

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