As far as NBA All-Star Games go, and that's not very far, last night's edition had just about everything. From the NBA's two best players pacing their conferences with 36 apiece, to the typical shootout devolving into world-class defensive play in the last five minutes, to the NBA saying screw you, we're televising Chris Brown and we dare you to complain.
But the story was Kobe; the story's always Kobe. Even in this, the most friendly of exhibitions, Kobe managed to talk trash and draw hard fouls. His hyper-competitiveness is why he's loved and hated and even in his 16th NBA season remains the star of the show.Who else besides TNT's graphics department and Kobe himself knew he was close to passing Jordan's pointless ASG scoring record? Who else would have challenged Paul Pierce to bet on a pair of free throws? And who else would have taunted LeBron James in the closing seconds of a meaningless game for passing instead of looking to take the game-winner. "Shoot the fucking ball," indeed.
We don't know what Kobe was saying to Dwyane Wade, since Wade's hard foul on Bryant probably didn't come out of nowhere. Not in the third quarter, before anyone had started bothering with defense. But Wade whacked Kobe pretty good, giving him a bloody nose that later be diagnosed as a fracture, and apparently a mild concussion as well. He's expected to be ready to go for the Lakers game on Wednesday, and why not—he finished an All-Star Game with a broken nose and concussion, for God's sake. An All-Star Game! A game players aggressively don't care about, and Kobe still wanted to win. Forever doin' work.