Sam Mitchell was the head coach of the Toronto Raptors when Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points on them in 2006, and he has spent the last 10 years being ornery with anyone who asks him about it. Now with the T-Wolves, Mitchell coached against Bryant for the last time ever on Tuesday night, and Bryant of course dropped 38 points on his head. Sam, how’s that make you feel?
You really can’t blame poor Sam. Bryant’s a desiccated husk who can barely sniff 20 points these days, and yet he just happens to pop off for 38 on the last night Mitchell will ever have to deal with him. It felt like The Joker crashing his own funeral just to show Commissioner Gordon a few more pictures of his paralyzed daughter.
Bryant was of course informed of Mitchell’s reaction during his own press conference, and he had a good laugh about it:
One of the things that has been fun about Bryant’s goodbye tour is how much looser everyone is when entering his orbit. Mitchell’s been nothing but curt and tight-lipped whenever Bryant has come up in the past, but now that he’s retiring, why not just go out there and say something funny about the guy?
Even Kobe’s interactions with opponents have gotten more fun. Take this shot Andrew Wiggins hit last night, a carbon-copy of Bryant’s turn-around jumper:
You can clearly see Bryant and Wiggins laughing about the shot as they ran to the other end of the court. After the game, Bryant revealed what they were saying to each other:
Let’s all make sure to hold on to the memory of this game the next time Bryant goes out and grouchily shoots 6-of-21 from the field.