At a time when there remained little else to cheer about, there was still Kobe Bryant. At a time when the Lakers’ talented roster underachieved, Bryant somehow surpassed his greatness. At a time when plenty wondered how much he has left in his tank, Bryant suggested he has plenty of fuel.
With that, the NBA featured Bryant’s top plays in the 2012-13 season, and many of them will cause Lakers fans to wonder if they traveled back in time.
Bryant threw down thunderous dunks like he did in his prime against the likes of Atlanta’s Josh Smith, the Clippers’ Chris Paul and yes, both Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries. Bryant’s 27.3 points on 46.3 shooting and 6 assists in 38.6 minutes per game surpassed his career averages of 25.5 points and 4.8 assists per game. Despite logging 45,390 minutes at 34 years old, Bryant shed 16 pounds, stayed strict to his diet and showed an endless amount of determination to rise above it all.
That all came to a crashing halt when he suffered a season-ending left Achilles tendon April 12 against the Golden State Warriors. But Bryant still managed to hit two free throws essentially on one leg before leaving the court on his own. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti described that play as Bryant’s “gutsiest moment” in his 17-year career, though it’s mysteriously left off of the NBA’s top plays.
Bryant proved both in that instant and throughout the season that nothing would sap his determination to prevail. With everything else remaining far from pretty, Bryant remained a must-see as he endlessly pulled off the spectacular.
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