With 8:48 left in the 3rd quarter of the '12 NBA All-Star Game, Kobe Bryant took an ugly shot to the face from Dwyane Wade. Later we learned that besides a broken nose, the Lakers superstar suffered a mild concussion. But even that wasn't enough to keep him off the floor.
Kobe played out the rest of the game, leading the West to a 152-149 victory over the East. In 34 minutes of action, he was the team's second-leading scorer with 27 points, passing Michael Jordan for the No. 1 spot in All-Star Game scoring annals. Bryant broke MJ's record of 262 points on a dunk with 4:57 left in the third, four minutes after he got hit by D-Wade.
At that point, Bryant was fully aware of his condition. But he refused to leave the floor. Instead of playing it safe, sitting out the rest of an exhibition game, Kobe turned the rest of the game into a personal challenge.
He actually played an All-Star Game with a concussion. He knew he had a concussion, I knew he had a concussion, but he was just like, 'I gotta know what this feels like.'
Tim Grover, The Woj Pod
After the game, Kobe felt so bad he skipped the postgame media session. But he also refused to receive medical attention until he spoke with Wade face-to-face. Why was he so insistent?
He wanted to go up to Dwyane and say, 'Listen, I still own this. We went through this, I'm good. You didn't take me out, I'll see you down the road. You hit me with something that would knock most people out and I just wanted to stand up and see you and say that I'm good. The battle will continue.' Going from great to unstoppable, that's the moment of making a player unstoppable. 'I played through something that nobody else plays through or has played through.'
Tim Grover, Sports Illustrated
You don't see hard fouls like Wade's in the All-Star Game anymore. And perhaps that's for the best - players are dealing with enough injuries already. But even if someone replicated Dwyane's approach, tell me this - who would've replicated Kobe's reaction?
This isn't a knock on today's generation of NBA players. Instead, it's a testimony to the uniqueness of Kobe's mentality and his unorthodox way of turning everything into a personal challenge, even at the expense of his own health.
Dealing with a concussion didn't scare Kobe Bryant - missing the opportunity to learn something from it did. That's what Mamba mentality is all about.