On the night he surpassed Michael Jordan to become the NBA’s career-leading scorer in All-Star game history, Kobe Bryant showed no signs of pain as he and the Western Conference held off a late rally to defeat the East, 152-149, on Sunday night at the Amway Center.
Bryant passed Oscar Robertson (246) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (251) in points earlier in the game, and later broke MJ’s record of 262 points on a dunk with 4:57 left in the third quarter. Ironically, what we didn’t know at the time of Kobe passing Jordan was that he was feeling the effects of a blow he had taken to the head from Dwyane Wade moments earlier.
Bryant spun past the Heat’s All-Star on the baseline and had a clear path to the basket before Wade grabbed Kobe from behind to prevent him from scoring. The hard foul –in a All-Star game nonetheless- left Bryant with a bloodied nose as he stepped to the free-throw line to tie Jordan’s record. Wade’s “flagrant foul” did not stop Kobe from continuing to play -he finished with 27 points to bring his All-Star total to 271- but, it did leave Bryant with a broken nose.
According to the Lakers’ website, Bryant underwent a CT scan after the game and was diagnosed with a nasal fracture late Sunday night. In addition to the broken nose, a league source told Yahoo! Sports that the Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar suffered a mild concussion after complaints of headaches following the game. “Yes, I fouled him hard,” Wade told reporters afterwards. “I obviously didn’t try to draw no blood, but I took a foul. Kobe fouled me two times in a row, so he’s still got one up on me.”
Despite the broken nose and concussion, the 33-year-old Bryant, who is also suffering from a slight-fractured wrist, worn-down knees and an arthritic index finger, spent the final seconds, along with game MVP Kevin Durant, successfully fending off a late East Conference rally, all the while encouraging his successor, LeBron James, to take the game-winning shot. While James faltered, Kobe did not.
“Yeah, he was telling me to shoot it,” James said dejectedly, after finishing with 36 points and six 3-pointers to help the East rally back from a 21-point deficit. “I wish I could have that one back.”
“That’s the type of guy [Kobe] is,” Western Conference coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s not going to let anybody know that he was in pain or had any issues. The guy is as competitive as I’ve seen. He was going to give everything and not let us know. That’s what makes him the special player that he is.”