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Remember the Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant and the Will To Win

Feed BynumContributor IMarch 24, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 20:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his basket in the last few minutes of play in front of LaMarcus Aldridge #12 and Nicolas Batum #88 of the  Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center on March 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

I'll keep this article short and sweet, unlike the most recent game against Phoenix (although that game was pretty sweet too).

As I watched Kobe Bryant force the issue during several fourth-quarter possessions of the recent game against Portland, I couldn’t help but “Remember the Titans” during their own game. 

For those of you who don’t know, "Remember the Titans" tells the story of a high school football team’s struggles with desegregation, and their journey to a perfect season.

During the state semifinals, white officials attempt to deprive the Titans of a perfect season by rigging the game. They refuse to call personal fouls against the opposing team, and call ticky-tack pass interference penalties against the Titans.

The Titans respond by letting the other team’s wide receivers catch the ball, and then tackling them hard enough to force fumbles.

As the Titans celebrate their victory, their white defensive coordinator stares down the officials as if to say: “Take that.”

Flash forward to Sunday’s nail-biter against the Blazers.

Kobe could not buy a call. Several times, I saw Kobe go up for a layup and get hacked. Several times, I saw Kobe vehemently yell in the direction of the officials. Several times, I thought the Blazers were going to get one foul shot and the ball out of bounds.

But then I remembered the Titans.

I saw Kobe Bryant play the most intense, playoff-inspired defense in a while—leading to a steal and a bucket for Kobe and an easy assist for Derek Fisher.

A minute later, I watched the same 34-year-old Fisher intercept a pass and take it coast to coast for a finger-roll layup.

I saw Kobe Bryant face up on Brandon Roy, skip the pump fake and drain a 10-footer from the baseline over an outstretched hand to put the Lakers up by four.

I then saw Kobe vehemently curse again (this time in slow motion) and yank at his jersey, as if to say: “Take that.”

And then I realized: The Lakers will give us something to remember in the Finals this season.

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