On May 12, 1997 an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant shot three airballs in overtime in a 98-93 loss against the Jazz in Game 5 of a second round series in the playoffs.
“I didn’t have an offseason. I went straight to Palisades High that night as soon as we landed. Knew the janitor, he opened up the gym for me and I was there until the sun came up,” Kobe said about his performance.
Years later he talked about the airballs: “Get over yourself. You’re worried about how people may perceive you. It’s embarrassing because you shot five airballs. Get over yourself. After that, why did those airballs happen? Got it, high school, the year before we played 35 games, max, right? a week in between, spaced out, plenty of time to rest and the NBA is back to back to back to back to back to back to back, I didn’t have the legs.
If you look at the shots every shot was on line, every shot was on line but every shot was short, alright, I gotta get stronger, I gotta train differently, the weight training program that I’m doing, I gotta tailor it for an 82-game season, so that when the playoffs come around my legs are stronger and that ball gets there. So I look at it with rationale and say ok well the reason why I shot airballs is because my legs aren’t there, next year they’ll be there, that was it, done.”
Kobe Bryant is possibly one of the greatest NBA players of all-time and the greatest Laker ever. Two jersey numbers in the rafters at the STAPLES Center prove it. Kobe was able to take over games in ways that not many players could.
His drive to win at any cost helped him succeed on and off the court. An 18-time NBA All-Star, five-time NBA champion and one-time NBA MVP, Kobe tragically passed away on January 26, 2020. Kobe’s game was influenced by Michael Jordan, he never denied it.
Eduardo Solano, from FOX Sports Radio 1340 AM Hopewell and AccuScore, wrote this about Kobe Bryant recently:
“I’ve always been a Chicago Bulls fan but I followed Kobe Bryant’s entire career! Kobe is one of my favorite athletes of all-time and I still can’t process that he is gone.”