The biggest drama in NBA right now will for sure enter into the pantheon of NBA discussions. Is Kobe a badass for not flinching when Matt Barnes pump-faked a pass in front of his face? Was it really in front of his face? How far away from one's face is far enough not to count the no-flinch? What is the acceptable angle of the ball to the face that counts as a no-flinch?
For those of you that don't know, it was Magic vs Lakers and not a really important game (as I sad, the Magic). Matt Barnes went to start the play from out of bounds, and while Kobe wasn't even trying to block the pass, Barnes pump-faked in front of his face. Kobe didn't even blink. This became an instant meme/gif/youtube sensation, the crown jewel for Kobe fans proving he is not human but a basketball machine.
Jeff Van Gundy called it right away: "When you have a pillow fight and somebody fakes a pillow at you, don't you even flinch? Kobe Bryant, THAT'S THE PLAY OF THE GAME, HE DIDN'T EVEN FLINCH". Matt Barnes was always first-team-you-don't-want-to-meet-in-an-alley (ask Derek Fisher), so Kobe got extra points because of that. Then the Zapruder film surfaced.
In 2015 Kobe described the moment: "He’s crazy, but he’s not that crazy. So I didn’t bother flinching. It was a split second and I processed it pretty quickly, I realized he wasn’t going to do it. We laughed and joked about it a lot when he played together.” This is Kobe adding fire to the mystery. If he had just said he was focused and ready to play, that would've been cool. Now he gave me a mini-project of finding high-school friends that studied neurology to find out is it even theoretically possible to say you didn't flinch because you "processed it pretty quickly". Flinching is part of a self-protective mechanism your body has specifically because some things are too quick to process. For instance, you don't sneeze with your eyes open. You may have noticed, when people clearly go too far with explanations, it annoys me a bit.
Back to the matter at hand. Now we know, it wasn't as cool as we thought. Kobe Stans will say this changes nothing, Kobe sceptics will say it proves everything, and the rest of us will still enjoy the meme/gif and carry on with our lives.