Kobe Bryant had his final game against a team coached by Sam Mitchell, and the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach could not be happier. After scoring 81 points on the Toronto Raptors just over 10 years ago when Mitchell infamously refused to double-team him, Bryant had his best scoring performance of the 2015-16 season against Mitchell's Timberwolves. The 37-year old scored 38 points against Minnesota, including 14 of the Lakers' final 18 points of the hotly contested late contest, willing the Lakers to a win.
Before the game, Mitchell told reporters he did not want to talk about Bryant's scoring explosion 10 years ago, telling Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News "I think I've answered that question the last five years enough." After his team similarly had no answer for Bryant on the court, Mitchell sounded no less enthused about having to talk about Bryant, telling reporters "I hate him. If I don't ever see him again, it won't be too soon. I hate him."
Bryant, when told of Mitchell's hate, had nothing but gratitude for the coach whose teams he's lit up so many times:
Kobe Bryant on Sam Mitchell saying he hates him: "I say thank you for the hate and I knew the double team would be too late." #lakers— Bob Garcia IV (@bgarcia90) February 3, 2016
Kobe gives Sam Mitchell a break on his 81-point game: "Honestly, that night there was nothing much he could do about it."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 3, 2016
Despite Mitchell's "hatred" and Bryant's barbs, the two were all smiles after they were done with their media availability:
Kobe and Sam are all love in the hallway pic.twitter.com/TxDwocBUSi— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) February 3, 2016
We were robbed of one last Kobe vs. Kevin Garnett showdown, but Bryant vs. Mitchell might have been even better.
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