LOS ANGELES – The lane opened, and so did Kobe Bryant's(notes) eyes. In that flash of an instant, Bryant's warped ankle no longer felt stiff. His legs felt alive. He took one hard dribble and exploded up. Emeka Okafor(notes), the New Orleans Hornets center, jumped too.
Bryant cocked the ball with his right hand as if it were a hammer held above his head, and … well, this did not end gently for Mr. Okafor.
These are the moments when an NBA season can turn, and Kobe knew as much. This game, this series – maybe even these entire playoffs – became his again. Shannon Brown(notes) would later joke that the last time he had seen such a ferocious dunk, Kobe had an Afro. Brown and the rest of these Los Angeles Lakers saw the fury in Kobe's eyes, and they understood.
Raise up or sit down, Kobe was telling them. The Lakers' listless season had lurched precariously close to the edge. This quarter, this game – all of it was a referendum. And one violent dunk was all Kobe needed to send hisRead More »from Lakers get charge from Kobe's dunk