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.
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)