In our latest edition of Memory Lane Monday (#MAMBAMONDAYS), we take a look back at a (rightfully) forgotten moment of Kobe’s illustrious career: the “Dwight year.”
The 2012 offseason was a spectacle for the Lakers, who were rumored to land two of the game’s biggest fish on the market: Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. With an aging Pau Gasol, a hungry Kobe Bryant looking for his 6th NBA title, in a “win-now” organization, LA pulled the trigger and landed BOTH prized stars to form a new super team out West.
Well, about that…The honeymoon lasted a couple of games into the 2012-2013 campaign, where Steve Nash broke his left leg and spiraled down an injury-plagued track for the rest of his career. With contrasting personalities, Dwight and Kobe’s “buddy cop movie” turned south in an instant – mix in Mike D’Antoni’s misplaced, uptempo system and you had a talented team plagued by too much internal dysfunction.
That said, the Black Mamba’s focus was was sharper than ever as he fought to lead the flailing Lakers to another playoff appearance.
Case in point: March 6, 2103 in New Orleans.
Down by 14 with a little over six minutes left to play, Kobe ripped off 13 points in the midst of a 20-0 run that elevated LA to victory:
Sadly, this version of Kobe ended up as the LAST true from of the Mamba, a legendary figure with an endless supply of poisonous venom. With quick strikes and a ferocious lethal injection, he turned back the clock.
In classic Kobe form, he both led the comeback (finished with 42 points) and canned clutch Js to seal the deal – a microcosm of Kobe’s fabled takeover ability.
We all know what happened next, however. Kobe tore his Achilles in April, Dwight bolted to Houston, Steve Nash’s “basketball health” deteriorated and the Lakers were decimated into a shell of their former selves.
But if Kobe’s “Dwight year” holds any importance when taking a gander at his storied career, it’s to tell you how intensely focused he was in the midst of any situation.
What more is there to say? Some guys are just wired differently.