Throughout the early games of the Olympic run, Kobe Bryant was colder than ice, and at one point, he had missed 17 of 21 shots. Then yesterday against Australia, with the Aussies making a third quarter run and every Laker fan watching on TV, online, on Twitter sitting there with jittery fingers and wide eyes, the nervous twitches became something more. Wait, is it just me or does Kobe look more and more like Michael Redd after knee surgery? Bryant was out of sync with everyone, taking extra dribbles when he shouldn’t have, running people over on the break, stealing rebounds away from teammates and then stepping out of bounds. It got to the point where I wanted LeBron to smack him across the face and say, “Snap out of it!”
Turns out, it was Carmelo Anthony who did it.
“I was on him the whole game: ‘Wake up!’ He looked a little sleepy out there,” Anthony told The Chicago Tribune. “I guess I woke the Mamba up, and he got it going in that third quarter.”
“Man, he was just saying, ‘Let me see you. I want to see what we see during the season,’ ” Bryant told The Tribune about Anthony. “At that point, I was already revved up.”
Bryant proceeding to bang six second half triples, and made four in a row during a decisive 66-second fourth quarter spurt that turned the game into an ugly And1 beatdown. Kobe wasn’t just hitting shots – he was pulling up on the break, running down loose balls, turning and splashing shots from the corner, pump-faking, letting defenders fly by and still netting the shot. It looked like the old Kobe was back rather than just Old Kobe.
Afterwards, he told Craig Sager he needed something to rev him up, to activate the Black Mamba, and that at the half, he found it, even if he wouldn’t admit what it was.
Whether all of this is a good thing remains to be seen. LeBron and Kevin Durant are the team’s two best players (you can argue Carmelo is right there as well), and if Bryant can’t completely fall in line – which will probably be harder after he turned the second half into his own personal “F— YOU!” game – we could see some awkward moments if one of the remaining teams pushes the Yanks deep into the fourth.
For now, though, we should just be thanking ‘Melo for finally quelling the growing thought that Andre Iguodala should start ahead of Kobe.
What do you think?
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