Kobe Bryant always finds a way to be motivated when playing the New York Knicks, but when he travels to New York on Friday he won't find motivation from Spike Lee sitting courtside or the aura of Madison Square Garden; he'll find it from rising star point guard Jeremy Lin.
Lin's sensational rise from the Knicks bench to the front page of the city's major newspapers has been a thrilling journey to watch unfold.
Bryant wasn't quick to praise the "Linsanity" excitement in New York when asked about it Thursday night.
"What? No idea," Bryant told the New York Post after seeing off the Celtics 88-87 in overtime — and when pressed further admitted, "I have no idea what you guys are talking about."
Clearly Kobe is just playing games with the media, because if he's watched SportsCenter over the last week he would have seen many amazing highlights from the former Harvard guard.
Like most legends of basketball, such as Michael Jordan, when the spotlight is threatened by the up-and-coming young star, they respond with a motivated performance that reminds us why we consider them the best of the best.
Just three years ago Bryant scored 61 points against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the most ever by a player in an NBA game at MSG.
Will Lin fuel Bryant to another historic performance in the world's most famous arena? You bet.
Not only will Bryant score 40 points at the very least tonight, I would think Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown would have his star guard defend Lin.
A Lin vs. Kobe matchup on the defensive end of the floor would be amazing to watch. Bryant is one of the most competitive players in the NBA, and all great players not only want to shine the brightest offensively, they want to shut down the opposing team's best player.
Jordan was a great offensive player but I'm sure he took almost as much pride in making his opponent's night a disaster on defense as he did carrying the Chicago Bulls offensively.
Bryant relishes these kinds of challenges, and there's no question he will guard Lin at some point Friday night if he doesn't start out on the star of Chinese descent.
If Bryant does guard Lin it will be a tremendous display of respect that the Lakers would have for him, since Bryant is still an elite perimeter defender.
Linsanity is dominating the NBA headlines and it's the center story of the New York sports scene, and it's a challenge that Kobe will dominate on Friday night in Madison Square Garden.