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.


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.


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


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.


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.