In his 77th regular season game of his 17th season with his team fighting for the 8th, and final playoff seed in the West, Kobe Bryant played 48 minutes producing 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks, 3 steals and 1 win.
He is having one of the five best season’s of his illustrious career for a flawed, underachieving team destined to be overrun in the first round of the playoffs, but several weeks ago, Bryant guaranteed the Lakers would make the playoffs, and by the grace of Mamba they will.
Bryant’s legacy, beyond the five rings and mountainous statistical accomplishments, will be his singular sense of purpose. He has fought and fueded with Shaq, Phil and even Smush Parker for their perceived lack of purpose. His relationships with teammates has felt forced at best, fraudulent at worst.
In this late playoff push though, he has granted a gift to his fellow Lakers. The gift of being relevant, and somehow relieved of culpability for the season long shit show they have been.
The story since his guarantee of a playoff birth, and his looming, if somewhat distant retirement, has been Kobe’s willful and inspiring performances. It is odd and simultaneously awesome, in the true jaw dropping, head-shaking manner.
It is entirely Kobe Bryant.