The air of mystery that surrounded Kobe Bryant throughout his Laker tenure has created an environment where just about any anecdote in which he’s a central figure feels like it could be real. The length of his career has given many, many players Kobe stories, which means they’ll almost certainly continue to come out for years to come.
Chris Duhon is the perfect example of a player few would expect to have a great Kobe story because few probably remember him as a Laker. Duhon spent just one season in LA after being included in the deal that brought Dwight Howard to the Lakers. The 2012-13 season is mostly remembered for lots of the wrong reasons, but it was also Kobe’s last thoroughly incredible campaign.
Recently, a clip of Duhon talking about that season gained some popularity, first on Reddit, then across the internet as a whole. It’s actually an old clip, coming from an interview Duhon had on the KarterKast podcast back in September of last year. In the interview, he shares a hilarious story about Bryant that feels like something the Mamba would absolutely do.
Unfortunately, this story does not seem to be actually factual. To be clear, I’m not saying Chris Duhon made this story up, just that memories tend to blur and he’s recounting a story from a decade ago, so I believe it was likely based in reality at the very least. I mean, who isn’t guilty of forgetting the details of a story or indulging in a more appealing version of them?
My first inclination when hearing this story is to find the exact game. It shouldn’t have been hard to find as Kobe only had two triple-doubles in the 2012-13 season. And it should have been pretty easy to cross-reference with LeBron, who only had four triple-doubles that season. But that’s when the red flags were raised.
Kobe’s first triple-double came very early in the season and before LeBron had recorded one, so that couldn’t be it. His last triple-double came late in the season when LeBron was sitting out games down the stretch for Miami.
So I tried to go about it another way and find the specific game(s) that fit Duhon’s memory of it being a home game on the second night of a back-to-back after a road game. But the Lakers didn’t have a single game that met that criteria. Then I tried to see if there was a game in which Kobe had nine rebounds and nine assists in the first half and that never happened either.
Yes, I dove way, way, way too deep down this rabbit hole.
The closest Kobe came to a performance like that was in his first triple-double when he had nine assists and seven rebounds in the first half in a game he eventually had a triple-double. And that was a home game, but in was in a long stretch of them.
Really, there just wasn’t a scenario in which it happened quite as Duhon described. Still though, there were a few ways to continue expanding the parameters to find something similar. When LeBron had a triple-double at home against LeBronto on Jan. 23, Kobe had a pair of games that followed in which he had a double-double, coming one rebound shy of a triple-double in both.
The first of those was a home game against Utah two nights after a road game in Memphis, but he didn’t have a particularly memorable first half in that game. In the second of those games, he did have a more memorable first half that would come close to fitting Duhon’s description with six assists and seven rebounds.
Look, as I said, I put way too much thought into this. I went down a rabbit hole that had no exit. In reality, it’s a fun story that had some sort of basis in reality, even if it’s a bit of an exaggeration.
It also speaks to that mystique surrounding Kobe that even a story that appears to have some pretty big inaccuracies was one that seemed like it could be real. And it won’t stop me from continuing to consume every new Kobe story that emerges.