2012-13 Top 10 Moments: #2
Kobe Bryant had been teaching Father Time a lesson all season, and no more than in April when he racked up game after game of 40+ minutes while leading the Lakers to win after win as the team was locked into a tight race to make the playoffs.
On April 12 against Golden State, Bryant was at it again, having played all 45 of the game's minutes, and draining back-to-back threes to reach 34 points and tie the game at 107 with 3:44 to play. Despite coming up lame at two different times of the second half, he was still charging along until Father Time finally took its revenge.
With 3:08 to play, Bryant attempted a move to his left he'd made one million times before, only to crumble into a heap holding the back of his left ankle area.
We'd learn after the game that Bryant had torn his left Achilles, a devastating injury for a player never to suffer such a severe one in his 17-year career and for a team who'd finish the season 28-12 with championship aspirations renewed.
Before it was known that the Achilles was torn came our No. 2 moment of the season, when Bryant limped very slowly back onto the court to shoot two free throws (Warriors wing Harrison Barnes had fouled him on the play).
With his left leg throbbing in extreme pain, Bryant barely flinched. Having made his way to the foul line, the 15-time All-Star collected the ball, and loaded up using only his right leg. The first shot went up … swish. And the second … swish. Game tied at 109.
Determined to walk off under his own power, Bryant slowly hobbled back to the other end of the court, and straight into the locker room, knowing he'd played his last game of basketball until the fall.
Buoyed by their leader, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Blake all made big plays to secure a 118-116 victory, keeping L.A. in position to make the playoffs with two games to play.
Long known as one of the tougher players in the history of the NBA, Bryant showed exactly who he is on that Staples Center evening.