James Harden is the likely MVP and in the midst of what he hopes will be a championship playoff run, but during the 2011 lockout he was no match for an aging, but still deadly Kobe Bryant in the Los Angeles Drew League.
Unlike a run of the mill summer league snoozer, Bryant and Harden dueled all night and the intensity of the crowd and the game ratcheted up to a near playoff atmosphere as Kobe brought the ball down with the game tied at 137, and seconds remaining in the fourth.
With the crowd chanting “Kobe!”, Bryant raised up and drilled a fadeaway from the top of the key to win the game as time expired. The crowd rushed the floor and mobbed Bryant as he stood on the court with his arms raised. As far as Summer League moments go, this might be the best ever. Harden finished with 44 on the night. Bryant had 45.
Harden is an L.A. native, this was a Mamba home game and crowd. Even though Kobe was on the decline he was still a killer, even in a meaningless summer league game.
Here’s a larger highlight package if you want to watch Kobe and The Beard go at it: