After Friday night at Staples Center, what is left to stay about Kobe Bryant?
When pressed about fear of not making the playoffs after the game, the 34-year-old looked around funny and stated that he is not afraid of failure, but he is afraid of bees.
Hornets may be similar to bees, but they were definitely not something Kobe feared in Tuesday’s miraculous comeback victory. Fear the Raptors? Bryant once dropped 81 points on Toronto.
On Friday night, he settled for 42 points, and the way he played in the fourth quarter was mind-blowing and heart-stopping. After forcing his way to the foul line six times earlier in the fourth quarter, Bryant hit three clutch 3-pointers with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to tie the game.
Before his last three in the set hit the bottom of the net with 5.5 seconds remaining, the Lakers had trailed from the first quarter until that point.
Vino, Mamba, KB, El Macho, and countless other nicknames only serve as place holders for what Bryant will be called for all eternity: "Great."
Enjoy this win and don't miss another Laker game as long as No. 24 is still suiting up. At the moment, the Jordan-Kobe debate is obsolete because No. 23 is not about to come out and dazzle Staples Center on a Friday night.
No 23 was. No. 24 is.
The "Vino" glass half-empty folks will once again contend that the Lakers were losing to a team that has a poor record and is not a playoff contender. Those folks may have a point, but those are the same folks that worry about the price of the Vino rather than enjoying its greatness.
There was not a single man, woman, or child inside Staples Center that was not in awe of the greatness of Kobe Bryant on Friday night. No one cared about the price of admission or that the Lakers were losing to the Raptors for most of the nigh.
Everyone in attendance recognized that they were in the presence of true greatness, and that included Bryant's teammates.
“In the fourth quarter, it’s Kobe-time,” Dwight Howard said after the game (video above).
As simple as that statement may be, it is worth more than a thousand words. Bryant and Howard have seemingly never been closer. When Bryant walked out of the training room on his way to address the media, Howard starting singing "Bad to the Bone" by George Thorogood.
Bryant smiled when he realized that the tune was meant for him. He walked over and had some words with his center. When they were done, Bryant walked toward the hoards of media horseshoe'd around his locker.
Howard resumed singing "Bad to the Bone."
Prior to Bryant’s emergence from the training room, Howard was talking about Bryant needing a theme song and even tried to get some of the Lakers staff to sing along when Bryant walked out. No one else went for it, but Howard did not back down.
As the door opened, the sound of "Bad to the Bone" started out from Howard’s locker. For the media that knew what was going on, smiles spread across the room.
In a nutshell, that is the difference between the two superstars. Bryant puts smiles on faces while he’s on the court, and Howard puts smiles on faces when he’s off it.
Howard looks healthier on the court too, and the Lakers look healthier off the court.
All it took was Kobe Bryant doing what he does best -- being great.