December 19, 2014 will always have a special place in my Kobe fandom. It was his first game back in Los Angeles after having passed Michael Jordan on the all-time NBA scoring list. There was a celebratory vibe to Staples that night with ushers were handing out posters honoring Mamba’s accomplishment and people happy to see a relatively healthy Kobe after an aborted 2013-14 season that saw him play only a handful of games.
But most importantly, I finally got to watch a Laker game with my dad.
We’ve enjoyed Mamba’s antics regardless of whether the Lakers were good or bad; as long Kobe kept shooting and entertaining us, that was all that mattered. But our time watching Mamba together was always from home. I’ve been fortunate enough to catch more than a few Kobe games live, so being able to watch this one with my pops was special. I lucked out and found some box seats still available that day (note: I made sure with 100% certainty that Kobe was healthy and playing that night before buying) so in true “Filipino Time” fashion, we showed up midway through the first quarter as we tried to find our box.
Little did we Kobe would troll us by having one of the worst games of his career. That’s so Mamba of him to do and we loved every minute of it.
Kobe wore a Nike Kobe 9 Elite PE on that day and because it seemed like the right thing to do, I wore my multicolor Nike Kobe 9 Elite Low. Hilariously, our kicks were as dope as his game was crap. Kobe would only score 9 points on 3-15 shooting. I’ve never been more entertained by a 3-15 shooting performance and to make things ever better, Russell Westbrook was on the other side doing Russell Westbrook things without having to deal with passing the ball to Kevin Durant (he was injured) in his Air Jordan 10 PE. One of my all-time favorite players facing off against my favorite current NBA player with little regard to shooting percentage. Good times, man.
Despite the terrible performance, Mamba still wanted to make up for it by giving us the chance to witness a buzzer beater in person. Don’t get me wrong, my dad and I had a great time watching Kobe and Russ, but to cap it off with a game-winner would have been an all-time moment. It was all lined up too as Kobe drove to the left like he had done thousands of times before, he creates enough space to take a tough, but not impossible, jumper that he had also made a thousand times before. Too bad he had to troll us again by missing it though. He got us, man…
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