As Tony Parker casually jogged the ball up the floor, the Los Angeles Lakers had a one-point lead with 16 seconds to go. In all likelihood, the Lakers needed just a single stop to beat the West-leading Spurs and improve to .500. As the headline implies, the Lakers did not get this stop, nor did they defeat the Spurs. Instead, Danny Green knocked down a game-winning three. A game-winning three that he was able to release virtually uncontested thanks to a well-run play and a critical error by Kobe Bryant.
Watch carefully as Green makes his way to the right wing, where he receives the ball and sinks the dagger…
Notice how Green gets a head start on his defender, Kobe Bryant, by slipping what appears to be a screen for Stephen Jackson. As Kobe tries to catch up with Green, he’s forced to take one of two routes around a Tim Duncan pick. The options are simple: follow Green’s path and hope to contest the shot, or make a B line to the passing lane and aim to make a deflection.
What happened next was an uncharacteristic moment of indecisiveness from one of the greatest clutch players the game has ever seen.
At first, Kobe’s decision appears to be to try to beat Green to the spot. However, he abruptly changes his mind, tries to follow Green, and ends up running face first into the back of his largest teammate, Dwight Howard. To make matters slightly more embarrassing, he was doing that thing where he eats the collar of his own jersey just before he ended up doing a faceplant. Indeed, Kobe ate a lot of fabric on this play (refer to the picture above).
Later, Tony Parker (probably unintentionally, but it’s funnier if you assume otherwise) threw a little salt in Kobe’s wound by stating that he has a tendency to “cheat.” No, not on his wife; on defense!
And with that, this basically became a Kobe hater’s wet dream. It was a triple whammy for Bryant, who was also forced to watch as Pau Gasol attempted (and obviously missed) the Lakers’ final shot.
Even the elite get outsmarted by those pesky ol’ Spurs. You gotta love it!