On Feb. 8, 1997, current rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell was in a crib somewhere in Kentucky, only 11 months old, while a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant was high-flying his way to an NBA All-Star Weekend dunk contest victory.
Thursday night, nearly two decades later, a now 19-year-old Russell finally got the chance to witness one of the Mamba’s slams in person, when Bryant took it to the rack against the Houston Rockets. And how good was the 37-year-old Kobe’s one-handed hammer? So good that Russell completely lost his cool.
The stutter! The drive! The elevation!
While the entire Lakers bench celebrated Kobe turning back the clock, Russell was so jazzed up that he got whistled for a technical foul for celebrating too hard, literally -- and illegally -- running away from the bench in excitement.
"It [was] like the Casey Jr. train, 'I think I can. I think I can,'" Bryant said about the play after the game. "First dribble, second dribble, I said, 'My legs feel pretty good.'"
"Then I jumped and I was like, 'Oh, I'm still going up.' Then I said, 'I might as well give it a try,'" he added.
And how did the Mamba feel about Russell's excitement?
This is exactly what Lakers fans want from Kobe’s final season -- Bryant making a few more appearances on "SportsCenter" highlight reels while Future Of The Franchise D’Angelo Russell learns on a daily basis from one of the greatest to ever play the game.
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