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With about 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s NBA All-Star game, Kobe Bryant decided to put his stamp on the game defensively. He did this by welcoming the challenge of guarding the best player and long time rival on the East, LeBron James.
As Kobe hounded LeBron James by playing excellent full court defense on every offensive possession for the Eastern Conference, the atmosphere surrounding the All-Star game started to feel much different. These two rivals started to go at it like it was 5 minutes left in game 7 of the NBA Finals or like Michael Jordan had just chosen one over the other a few days ago.
Kobe completely dominated the one-on-one battle as he swiped LeBron’s jumper from atop the key with 2:39 left to help the West go up 10 points. A few possessions later, Kobe stayed at LeBron’s hip from one end of the floor to another and swatted his shot attempt out of bounds. Kobe then smiled, laughed, and talked some trash while LeBron looked absolutely depleted.
After the amazing defensive play from Kobe, LeBron ended the final quarter of the All-Star game 0 for 4 as the West won 143-138. With players usually just going out there and having fun every year, this defense from Kobe surprised many people, but not LeBron James.
“No, he does it all the time.” James said. “I am absolutely not surprised. It was all in good spirit. It was just two guys who love to compete, love to go at it. It was a lot of fun.”
As the All-Star game’s all-time leading scorer, 34 year-old Kobe Bryant affected the game defensively this time around and added yet another memorable All-Star performance.