Kobe’s defense steals spotlight

It has been the talk of the night – the block heard ’round the world. With a little under three minutes remaining in the 2013 NBA All-Star game, LeBron James looked to cut the West’s lead to just six points. But as he took off for his jumper from the top of the key, Kobe Brant timed his own jump perfectly, and swatted away the otherwise open look.

Like most NBA All-Star games, the first two or three quarters are mostly filled with alley-oops and a multifariousness of playground moves. But those final 12 minutes can be as intense as any regular season game, and fundamental basketball returns. The point guards run plays, picks are set, and defenders start to get up close and personal.

But I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything quite like this. Not in an All-Star game, at least. Even from the clip, you can see that both Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant were ready to double-team James, but when he went to shoot, neither defender even came close to putting a hand in his face. Bryant had something different in mind.

Kobe Bryant relished his chance to defend King James.

Kobe Bryant relished his chance to defend King James.

“He was talking during the timeout saying he wanted to take [James] one-on-one, and he did a pretty good job,” West All-Star Tony Parker said.

Did playing around fellow All-Star caliber players reinvigorate Kobe’s game? We all know he’s a competitor, but it almost seemed like no one was playing as hard as the 17-year veteran, especially down the stretch. I’m sure L.A. fans are curious to see how this display of hard-nosed defense, even in a relaxed setting, affects his teammates back home. Will this inspire them, as well? Can the Lakers start playing cohesively, or will it be too little, too late?

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