As we come to the close of Kobe Bryant’s career it’s interesting to see some how he and other players have changed. For example, when Kobe and Matt Barnes play against each-other now they hug and chat it up before and after games. That scene would be unimaginable for anyone to dream of just a few years ago. Because on this day in 2010 Barnes, then a Orlando Magic player, was trying his hardest to get under Kobe’s skin and pretended to inbound the ball at Bryant’s face during their game. Kobe didn’t flinch and then we had the proof Kobe was not human.
For the sneaker community it was also a game that saw Kobe wearing a version of the Zoom Kobe V not seen before. It was similar to the “away” colorway that was released to the public, however there were some dramatic changes. A big difference was the #24 stitched on the now purple heel. A matte finish would also be used on the new sneaker along with different midsole/outsole color. Was it a Player Exclusive (P.E.)? Not exactly. Apparently the sneaker was made on NIKEiD and was to promote the sneakers new options available for fans. And it seems like it as the only game that season he wore that pair. So if you are trying to find a pair now good luck, eBay saved searches might be your best bet.
But beyond the footwear the “flinch game” was a tough fought battle between the Lakers and Magic. This was a year the Lakers were having another strong run led by an MVP-type season for Kobe. The Magic during the time were led by Dwight Howard and were one of the top contenders of the East. From the opening tip the game was feisty especially between Kobe and Barnes. Chippy through most of the closely contested game, the highlight moment came during the 3rd quarter. After battling during a box-out for possible rebound both were assessed technical fouls although many argue Kobe shouldn’t have received one. Then a few minutes later on a Barnes dunk Kobe’s elbow crazed his neck, but no fouls were called. The two would keep making physical contact up and down the floor. Then it happened. Barnes got the ball for the inbound play and faked throwing the ball at Bryant’s face. He didn’t flinch one bit and stared straight ahead. Announcer Stan Van Gundy called it the “play of the game.”
Barnes and the Magic would have he last laugh as the Magic held off a Kobe-led 4th quarter push to win 96-94. But no one will forget Kobe’s non-reaction. All feelings were apparently mended and the two would become teammates and friends the next season.