April 12, 2013
34 years, 232 days
It was the night that Kobe Bryant literally gave the Lakers all he had to give.
The superstar scored 34 points to lead Los Angeles’ victory over Golden State, but it cost him the remainder of the season, as he tore his Achilles tendon with three minutes left.
In true Black Mamba fashion, he wouldn’t leave the game until after he hit two free throws that resulted from the play that caused his injury.
“I can’t walk,” Bryant told reporters while on crutches in the Lakers’ locker room. “I tried to maybe put pressure on my heel, but there was nothing there.”
Bryant shot 9-of-21 with four 3-pointers, plus 12-of-16 on free throws in the Lakers’ 118-116 victory, which provided a crucial win in his team’s quest for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
Golden State led, 107-101, with five minutes left before Bryant hit a pair of 3-pointers to tie it all up. The Warriors scored once again, and the Lakers’ next possession resulted in the loss of their superstar.
Nonetheless, Bryant managed to tie the game at the foul line despite standing on a torn Achilles.
“He’s the greatest competitor, and he’s been that all season long — all through his career,” Pau Gasol said. “He’s been an example for us throughout all this. He showed character. He showed heart. And that’s what we’re going to need from now on.”
The teams traded baskets and free throws from there until L.A. pulled out the two-point win.
While Bryant played only six games the following season, the contest also proved to be a preview of the future, as Stephen Curry erupted for 47 points, six rebounds, nine assists and three steals, while shooting 17-of-31 with nine 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard scored 28 points for the Lakers, while Gasol recorded his sixth career triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Kobe performances on this day in history: