[It's time for another SB Nation NBA Theme Day, this time with a focus on out favorite live games we've attended! Here's our second take, featuring a duel between two of the best shooting guards of the last decade.]
I'll never forget the best Laker game I ever attended, primarily because it's the only one I've ever been to.
It was March 4, 2010, and the Lakers were visiting the Miami Heat. Given our long-distance affair, the Lakers and I never courted in person, so my friend David and I decided to buy tickets for their annual trip to South Beach. Color me excited!
David and I reached the American Airlines Arena a couple hours before tip off, searching for parking spots among a sea of overpriced, gravel-laden lots. We eventually settled on a $7 spot only a short walk from the arena, so I got my pseudo-tourist on. I took pictures everywhere I could, tackily sporting a white t-shirt underneath my Kobe Bryant jersey with blue jeans and white Chuck Taylor's. I didn't care that day, and I guess that made it more fun.
Being born in California, I always longed to see the Lakers in person. The three-peat Lakers were long gone, but this team had won the 2009 title, and I had an opportunity to see Kobe in his prime, so fashion was the least of my concerns. Entering the arena, I saw Andrew Bynum's massive frame practicing jump hooks, and shortly afterward, Adam Morrison put on a pregame shooting clinic, which put into perspective how friggin' hard it is to crack an NBA rotation. I've always been lucky to make consecutive layups, let alone NBA-range three-pointers.
As the starting lineups were announced, the crowd began to fill out, and I realized I was about to watch Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade square off. They certainly didn't disappoint, with Kobe dropping 39 points, and Wade responding with 27 points and 14 assists.
The best part of the game came down the stretch, when Kobe and Wade each took shots at nailing each other's coffin. As the Lakers discussed how to tie the game, something urged me to whip out my Blackberry (it was 2010!) and record the final possession -- I mean, the ball was certainly going to Kobe.
True to form, Kobe took the inbound pass, walked the ball up the court, and everyone awaited his next move. He dribbled from the top of the key, maneuvering to his right as he attacked the defense. Stopping on a dime, Kobe raised up for a fadeaway jumper to force overtime. I instantly let my fandom show, so much that the :45 second clip is filled with me high-fiving David and shaking my phone for 35 seconds.
Eventually, though, the Lakers lost 114-111, primarily because Quentin Richardson's worst manners were on full display. He went 7-for-11 on three-pointers, and his energy was contagious for the surrounding Heat fans.
I got plenty of trash talk for my jersey as I left the game, mostly being asked "What does your jersey say now?!"
"First in the Western Conference!" I told them, soaking in the final moments of an unforgettable experience. I saw prime Kobe and the Lakers perform during a championship season. That's something I'll always appreciate, regardless of however many Lakers games I attend. It would be nice, though, to see Kobe play again.
What's your favorite Lakers experience?