Rarely has Kobe Bryant ever doubted himself about anything.
He knew he would ascend from a high school phenom to an NBA star. Bryant immediately envisioned winning multiple NBA championships. Only a season removed from treating two major injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee, Bryant believed his superior post moves would enable him to stay among the NBA’s elite.
But even Bryant surprised himself, beating Clippers forward Matt Barnes on a baseline drive and finishing with a reverse dunk.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 118-101 loss Friday to the Clippers in a designated home game at Staples Center. “I shocked the [heck] out of myself.”
Incidentally, not everything went according to script. Bryant’s 21 points came on 6-of-15 shooting, including a 1-of-7 fourth-quarter clip that entailed missing a potential game-tying three-pointer. Yet, Bryant’s throwdown dunk marked another step in the 36-year-old’s season-long quest to shed off rust after playing only six games last season.
“I am old. I feel strong though,” Bryant said. “I felt like myself. I didn’t know that was there. It was there.”