Exactly twenty-four hours before Game 2 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, a 23-year-old Kobe Bryant was chilling at the Sacramento Hyatt hotel.
Bryant, who wanted to cure his hunger at that time, ordered a bacon cheeseburger and a cheesecake from the hotel's room service, but little did he know this would poison him before the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Sacramento Kings the next day.
Was it the mob?
"Kobe told me he started feeling sick around 1 a.m.," former Lakers trainer Gary Vitti said in 2014. "He didn't call me until around 3. By that time, his abdominal cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea was out of control. The cramping was so bad, he was curled up like a shrimp," Vitti added.
However, a nasty food poisoning didn't stop Bryant from showing up to the ARCO Arena. He received intravenous fluids hours before the vital playoff game, which helped him put up a mediocre performance (at least based on his standards) of 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. Bryant shot just 42.9 % from the field and finished the game with four turnovers.
After the Lakers' disappointing Game 2 loss, Kobe's bad beef was the major storyline around the league. There were several conspiracy theories behind what caused Bryant's illness, one of them derived from Lakers fans who believed that their shooting guard was poisoned on purpose.
While there was no proof behind what caused Bryant's illness, the Black Mamba believed that the hotel's room service didn't intend to poison him.
No more room service
But according to Bryant's head coach Phil Jackson, the star player no longer wanted to order room service from the Sacramento Hyatt hotel ever again. So it's hard to blame the five-time champion for this because, after all, it affected his performance in a crucial playoff game.
Fortunately for Bryant, the Lakers won the tough 2002 matchup against the Kings in a gritty seven-game series. The Lakers lost Games 3 and 5, but they were able to turn the series around in Games 6 and 7. Bryant then helped Los Angeles defeat the New Jersey Nets in the Finals, sweeping them to earn his second title at that time.
Before Kobe retired in 2016, the Sacramento Kings tweeted a picture of a bacon cheeseburger to honor Kobe's final game in Sacramento. The story about Bryant's food poisoning already blew over at that time, but it still served as symbolism and a funny moment that will always be part of the classic Lakers-Kings rivalry.