Mess with a bull, you get the horns. Mess with the Black Mamba, and you get the venom.
Kobe Bryant has spent the last 17 years carving up defenses, setting records and draining cold-hearted shots without the slightest sympathy for his opponents. As he continues to work his way back from what could be a career-altering Achilles injury, we shouldn't forget that.
This Mamba tribute video, entitled "The True Genius" and brought to our eyes courtesy of YouTube user Sandr0nba, won't let us.
In it, we travel through a vast array of Kobe's accomplishments. The 81-point outburst, the four consecutive 50-point outings, various game-winners and so much more—it's all there.
Though everything we see already happened, footage of the Mamba at work never ceases to amaze.
Over the years, he's made fall-aways from impossible angles look effortless; generated hang time that seemed inhuman; completed dunks worthy of jaw drops and eye pops.
Watching them again, on repeat, has the same effect.
Never mind that it's been almost eight years since his 81-point showing, or almost seven since his four successive 50-point explosions. These feats still matter. They're in the past, yes, but they're more than just fond memories for fans and the Mamba himself to look back on.
They're evidence of the players he posterized, games he won and odds he defied. Proof that he was every bit as great as the numbers show.
And they offer hope that he can continue to be the same player next season.
"I want to be the best I can be," Kobe says in the background of the video. "Michael [Jordan] is Michael. You have to let me be me."
Nearly 18 years and one more visual salvo later, one can't help but wonder if Kobe will still be Kobe upon his return to active duty.