Kobe Bryant almost closed the latest chapter in his career in true storybook fashion. The Los Angeles Lakers clawed their way back into a game they had no business being in, mostly living by the hot hand of Nick Young, but there they were. Down four with 14.4 seconds left there was never any doubt Byron Scott was going to Kobe to somehow bring the Lakers back to life. The only question was if there was enough in his tank to make it happen.
Then, Kobe struck.
He swung around a screen from Julius Randle, grabbed the rock, and found himself out way above the break. Way off balance. Way over the top of Paul George. Bryant launched another impossible shot into the air at Staples Center, but in a year where it's seemed each and every one of those has been off target, the amazing happened. Another impossible shot sailed in, and Los Angeles roared with the leader of their pride once again.
This was Kobe:
There's no need to break that down frame-by-frame. Everything you need to know is there, raw, and out in the open. The wild shot with the game on the line, the slim probability of it going in, and the heartbeat of Los Angeles pumping with Kobe Bryant as a leather ball made its way through lace. The kid who rolled up his father's tube socks, dreaming of draining clutch jumpers in the Great Western Forum, made it his reality.
The Lakers needed Kobe to deliver two miracles Sunday night, though, and when the Black Mamba fired off the potential game-winner reality crashed back down on everyone in the building. Lightning wasn't striking twice, and Father Time wasn't losing this game at the buzzer. The lasting memory from the night of his announcement shouldn't be the ignored prayer, but the impossible bending in the hands of Kobe Bryant once again. The goodbye tour has begun, and there's no telling how many of those moments we have left.
Enjoy it while you can.