Kobe Bryant seemed to always take his game to another level with the spotlight firmly on his Lakers jersey, so yeah, he knew it was time to deliver each time he walked on the court at Madison Square Garden.
During an appearance on HOT 97's "Ebro in the Morning," former Knicks guard Iman Shumpert told a terrific story about Bryant going off at MSG. Based on Shumpert's description, the Lakers-Knicks game was played in February 2012 amid the "Linsanity" craze caused by Jeremy Lin.
Here's how Shumpert remembered the start of the fourth quarter when Kobe turned into, well, Kobe:
"I guarded Kobe in the Garden. I can't remember how much he had, but I know I had multiple steals against him, to where in the game, in my head, all I'm thinking of is, when I have this conversation with my brother after the game, how I'm going to tell him how I stole the ball from Kobe. How I stripped Kobe before he was going to take a shot, how I drove by Kobe and got a dunk. Like, I'm thinking about all these things in my head, and I'm so geeked. ...
"The fourth quarter starts, and Kobe said, 'You had a great game. Yo, you had a great game, young fella.' I swear I looked at the clock like, I'm looking like, 'There's 12 minutes [left], what are you talking about?' What was that, you know what I'm saying? You ain't said nothing the whole game. I've been talking s—, I done stole the ball, I'm hyped as hell, it's Kobe Bryant. He ain't said not one word to me. 'Great game, young fella.' Locked in.
"The man come down, you remember, he came shot fake, shot fake, threw it off the glass, caught it, threw it to the corner. I'm like, 'Bro, what you on? Like, bro, you been regular all game.'"
Bryant finished with 34 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, but Shumpert and the Knicks did limit him to 11-of-29 shooting from the field.
Shumpert defended the 18-time All-Star about as well as humanly possible. Sometimes Bryant's offense was simply unstoppable.
"I guarded the first two moves. He ain't supposed to have a third counter like that," Shumpert said. "I stopped the first one. Stopped the second one. The third one wasn't on the film. It wasn't on the film, bro. I don't know what that is. I thought that was a travel. His feet shouldn't even be able to move like that."
The Knicks won that contest by a final score of 92-85. Lin scored a career-high 38 points, and Shumpert added 12 points and two steals in 26 minutes.
You had a great game, young fella.