As one would expect, the 1998 All-Star game was filled with legends like Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone, among others. There were also future stars like Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and the one and only Kobe Bryant.
Jason Kidd, who was in his second All-Star game during that time, shared a story that cannot escape his memory. It could be a story about the new kids on the block booting out the old guys. It could also be a narrative about a young kid's will and determination.
"One of the plays I will never forget, you can ask Karl Malone about it, is that he asked for a pick-and-roll. And Kobe waved him off. I think we were in awe, or in shock. You know, Karl Malone pick-and-roll with John Stockton. They've done it a million times. But Kobe was like 'No, no no. I got this by myself.'"
Jason Kidd, ">ESPN
Kidd was right. The Stockton-to-Malone pick-and-roll is considered one of the most lethal offenses in NBA history. Given his familiarity with the play, it's safe to assume that Malone knows how to set a pretty good screen. He also knows the proper counters when the defense reacts a particular way. So even though Kobe might not have been well-versed at the play, he'd do just fine. But then again, the play didn't even push through. Kobe wanted to do things his way.
It wasn't just Kidd who noticed a 19-year-old Kobe Bryant waving off a grown man. The legendary guard pointed out that other All-Stars on the bench poked fun at Malone for acceding to a kid.
"One, for you to have the nerve to wave Karl off even if he wasn't the MVP, just because of his muscles, you had to be different. And so on the bench we were all in tears laughing and giving Karl a hard time."
With the benefit of hindsight, the story makes perfect sense. Of course, Kobe would want to play a call for himself — that's precisely how he rolled during his playing days, especially during the peak of his career. But if we were in place of Kidd and other All-Stars who were seeing Kobe Bryant for the first time, what he did to Karl Malone was downright hilarious and amusing. It's proof that Kobe had that Mamba Mentality brewing in him from the very beginning.