Published On: Wed, Aug 24th, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mamba: 5 times Kobe did the impossible

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Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Kobe Bryant turned 38 on Tuesday, and retirement looks good on him.

The Black Mamba has grown a beard, he’s making cameos in movies, and he’s starting up nine-digit capital venture funds. Bryant is making a smooth transition into the next phase of his life, but would it be impossible for Bryant to return to the game some day?

Here’s five times Bryant did the impossible.

Kobe over Wade

There are countless game winners to choose from, but his fading triple over the outstretched arms of Dwyane Wade might have been Bryant’s best.

Bryant wanted to go right, but Wade forced him to attack left. That made no difference. The Black Mamba adjusted on the fly, worked into the middle of the floor, before barely getting off a shot with the buzzer expiring that somehow, found its way into the basket.

81 points

The funny thing about Bryant’s 81-point game is that Staples Center wasn’t even at full capacity. It was a ho-hum Sunday game with an unremarkable Toronto Raptors squad in town – there are better ways to spend Sunday in Los Angeles.

The Raptors held a double-digit lead for most of the game, but Bryant wouldn’t quit. He just kept chipping away one shot at a time, before he eventually toed the line at the end of the game to knock home two free throws, joining Wilt Chamberlain in the 80-point club.

Naturally, that wasn’t enough for Bryant. In looking back, he regrets the six minutes that he sat that night.

“I should have had 90 points or more,” Bryant lamented a decade later.

Kobe over Ben Wallace

Very few fans remember Bryant’s posterization of Ben Wallace because it came during a random preseason game in Las Vegas, but Big Ben definitely won’t forget – he got his clock cleaned.

Wallace eventually got his revenge in 2004 by helping the Detroit Pistons overcome Bryant’s Lakers in the NBA Finals.

Torn Achilles cant stop Bryant

Bryant’s career unofficially ended after he tore his Achilles tendon in 2013.

He was incredible that season, averaging 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and six assists as a 34-year-old, but he logged way too many minutes trying to push a dysfunctional Lakers squad to the playoffs. His body gave out.

Having played through a litany of injuries while logging over 40 minutes a night, Bryant snapped his Achilles in the final week of the season. But despite being hardly able to walk, Bryant gritted his teeth and drained two free throws, before checking out with 34 points. The Lakers won that game by two.

The Lakers managed to squeak into the playoffs, but got swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

60 in his last game

Even in his last game, Bryant was never one to back down from a challenge.

So when his friend-turned-foe-turned-friend Shaquille O’Neal publicly asked for 50 in his farewell, Bryant gave him 10 better and scored 60, before walking off the court for good.

Shaq, similar to the other 18,996 fans in attendance, sat in stunned silence as Bryant scored 23 in the fourth quarter to erase a 12-point deficit and come away with the win.

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