It's been almost an entire postseason since Kobe Bryant hung up his kicks and called it a career, and still the players and coaches who knew him are sharing stories of his ridiculousness—a tradition with enough narrative ammo to last a few decades, apparently.
This tale comes from Larry Nance Jr., a Los Angeles Lakers rookie during the Black Mamba's farewell season.
Maybe it's because Kobe instinctively hates all rookies, or because this particular rookie tweeted that Bryant is a rapist back in 2012, but the 18-time All-Star who ended his career with a record-setting performance goaded New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony into busting Nance for an explosive fourth quarter … and a three-point Knicks victory at Staples Center.
I love this story that Larry Nance Jr. told on our podcast. Nance was defending Carmelo Anthony well… until Kobe Bryant taunted him. pic.twitter.com/rliCebxLkB
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) October 16, 2016
One can pardon Nance for losing track of the actual numbers—he was a little busy worrying about stopping a Hall of Fame scorer from getting loose against him—but Anthony dropped 14, not six, points through three quarters on that fateful night, still a low tally for him. But after returning to the floor with nine minutes remaining, Carmelo dropped 12 points to lead his squad to a 90-87 victory. Though I'm sure it felt like 24 to the rookie he hung those points on.
Here's Carmelo's entire 26-point performance from March 13, 2016.