Sunday night in Los Angeles was supposed to be all about Kobe Bryant and news of his impending retirement, but Paul George and the Indiana Pacers crashed the party.
PG, who grew up in California idolizing The Black Mamba, hung a game-high 39 points on the Lakers in a 107-103 road win.
The backdrop starts with a boy from Palmdale, California, sitting with family members and watching the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant starred both on the television set and inside the boy’s head. So from the living room, he’d move the front yard and tried to emulate the jab step, the pump fakes, the counter moves as well as the game winners. Just like his basketball hero. […] “I was pretending that I was Kobe,” George recalled. “Doing the whole countdown from 3… 2…1.”
“Kobe was my Jordan,” George told Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star after his Indiana Pacers beat Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers 107-103 on Sunday. “Watching him win championships, I remember being at home just watching the games with my mom, my grandma and my dad and just idolizing him.”
“I’m not saying he’s better than Jordan,” George added, “but to me growing up, that’s who I idolized.“
However, knowing this could be the last time he would play against his basketball idol at the Staples Center served as motivation for George, who stole the show by scoring a game-high 39 points,.
“He’s still Kobe Bryant regardless of how he shot the ball tonight. In my eyes, he’s still one of the greatest players to play this game,” George said. “It was just about cherishing this moment, period. I was thinking this could be my last matchup against him in L.A … So I just knew off the bat to cherish this last moment.“