Bad left ankle or not, injured right index finger or not, Kobe Bryant channeled Keyshawn Johnson on Sunday and made the Celtics pay in the end.
“I didn’t say, ‘Give me one more chance.’ I said, ‘Give me the damn ball.’ I didn’t really give [my team] much of a choice,” Bryant said of the moments in the huddle before his game-winner with 7.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“All we talked about was the execution of [the play], where I was going to catch the ball. That was the only difference. Throughout the course of the game, I was pretty much a decoy because of all the traps they run, but if I catch it at the top of the floor, it’s a different story.”
Then there are Celtics fans, who had a slightly different perspective — one that had Bryant clearly pushing off of Ray Allen to create space for the game-winner.
“I just tried to create space and get to a spot where I could elevate and knock it down,” Bryant explained.
Speaking of pushing off, Bryant said his left ankle was so sore he couldn’t elevate, leading to this tidy little jab at Allen.
“Oh yeah, I couldn’t push off,” Bryant said. “Ray’s athletic, but my elevator goes to the 12th floor, his stays at the seventh. But I couldn’t get to the 12th floor today, so it was hurting.
“Special for me, personally, because I had opportunity to win the game last year and I didn’t do it. I didn’t get the shot I wanted, so I wanted to make sure I redeemed myself today.”
Mr. Zenmaster himself, Phil Jackson — who tied Pat Riley for all-time wins by a Lakers coach on Sunday with his 733rd — said nothing feels better than putting the game in Bryant’s hands.
“He had a couple of looks before that that were good looks in that area and we were mystified he couldn’t put it in. He told me the next one he got out there he would drop it in and so we went with it,” Jackson said.