I know it’s a big deal to everyone watching. It’s a big deal to them, too.
It wasn’t always beautiful, but there was magic out there when Kobe Bryant was sending those arching jumpers over LeBron James’ close contesting hand, wasn’t there? Bryant’s experience was very much evident in the Lakers’ victory, but overall it was just a nice, big deal — and it’s fun to watch a nice, big deal.
Phil Jackson said he let Bryant overrule him in the first quarter after Bryant picked up his first foul (to go with a dislocated finger that clearly made it hard for Bryant to put his right hand on James as he normally would at times). Jackson wanted to turn James over to Trevor Ariza to guard, but Bryant wanted to stay on the challenge of James.
Bryant took a high-risk swipe at one point after James got by him — and got all ball, knocking it off James’ knee and out of bounds for a turnover rather than a costly second foul on Bryant.
“He asked me to let him stay out (on James) until the second quarter, and that worked out pretty well for us,” Jackson said.
Said James afterward: “When you go against the best, it brings out the best in you. He’s one of the ultimate competitors we have in our game today. I enjoy that. I enjoy going against him. I enjoyed this summer, going against him in (USA Basketball) practice and playing alongside of him. It’s a treat.”