17 years ago today, Kobe Bryant hit two insane shots from beyond the arc to get a win over the ‘Kobe-Stopper’ and the Portland TrailBlazers.
After having lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2003 Playoffs, in a last-ditch effort to keep the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal tandem intact, the Lakers front office brought on aging stars Karl Malone and Gary Payton to provide them with some true veteran leadership. This seemed necessary as the locker room following the 3-peat seemed to have become a bit too toxic, with Bryant and Shaq butting heads quite often.
The ensuing 2003-04 season wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Kobe was dealing with an unfortunate sexual assault case at the time, Malone missed time due to injury, and Payton was frustrated with Phil Jackson’s patented triangle offense.
Due to these setbacks, Kobe took it upon himself to carry the Lakers to victory each and every night, taking the big shots that needed to be taken.
In the process, the iconic ‘Black Mamba’ moniker was born, and along with this, came a couple legendary moments that will live on in the annals of Lakers history.
Kobe Bryant will the Lakers to a win over Ruben Patterson and the TrailBlazers
Kobe Bryant had something in common with Michael Jordan, aside from their similar playstyles and mentality. Like Jordan, who seemingly had a lockdown defender in Dan Majerle, Kobe Bryant had to go up against a journeyman named Ruben Patterson.
The only difference being that Jerry Krause appointed Majerle as a legitimate ‘Jordan-stopper’ whereas Patterson claimed he was a ‘Kobe-stopper’, something no one else said about him. So when Kobe’s Lakers faced off against Ruben and the Blazers, the former made it be known that he took this personally.
17 YEARS AGO TODAY
Kobe forced OT with a ridiculous three over Ruben Patterson aka “The Kobe stopper!”
Kobe then hit another ridiculous buzzer-beating three to win the game in double OT!!
After the game, Patterson asked Kobe for his shoes. pic.twitter.com/GheayHqO12
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 14, 2021
Hitting a shot as difficult as the one he hit to tie it up 87 apiece in regulation, should’ve been enough for everybody to talk about Kobe for the rest of the night.
Knowing the Black Mamba, however, he knew he had to get the win over the Blazers as he undoubtedly was fueled by Patterson’s comments at the time. It seems almost normal now, to say that Kobe hit a fadeaway catch and shoot 3 from deep with a second left in 2OT to win it at the buzzer.
It’s what Kobe did, and continued to do for another decade. No one knows where he got the cojones to take shots as absurd as these. Whether it was one-legged fadeaways from three at the buzzer of 4 airballs in the 1997 Playoffs, Kobe never backed down from taking a shot he believed he could make. More often than not, this mentality worked out in his favor.