Dunk of Ages

by Bryan

The moment.

I debated whether to write about Kobe’s dunk, and I just saw Emma Carmichael’s writeup on Deadspin, so I’ll try to be brief. Kobe killed it last night. I don’t typically like him, but last night he was Full Kobe.

The entire arena was behind him, every time he hit or missed a shot. Brooklyn “fans” are just happy to have basketball, and basketball with Kobe is better than basketball without it. There were a lot of Lakers fans. They chanted “M-V-P!” all game. This must happen in every arena Kobe goes to, in some form.

Midway through the third quarter, Kobe crossed over Gerald Wallace, for whom I am told he harbors a long-standing distaste, and hit a jumper, and I jumped out of my seat with thousands of others.

From that point on, every time he got the ball, he was trying to further humiliate Wallace. He took Jordanesque fallaway 25-footers and just missed most of them and blew by Crash, as I am told he is known, at least twice. The game stayed close, and with three minutes left, Kobe pulled Wallace out to half court and I said, out loud, “This isn’t good for Gerald Wallace.” It wasn’t. The Nets expected a pass, not, as Carmichael wrote, young Kobe and a violent dunk. That’s what we got.

I’m 35, just a tick older than Kobe, and my friend Ravi, a lifelong Kobe fan taking in his first Kobe experience, is 34. As a journalist and writer, my career is still beginning. Kobe’s career is not yet in its twilight, but we know it’s coming. I never believed in him before, but he changed my impression in an instant. That dunk was more impressive than his older ones because he had no legs — it was pure practicality. It was 80-80, and it wasn’t just two points. It was: You’re NOT winning this game, and the Nets didn’t. It was a perfect expression of basketball genius, a moment, in the volume business of regular season sports, that changes everything you ever believed.