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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Kobe puts up 43 and the game-winner at Drew League

By Andy Kamenetzky

If Kobe is sweating allegations of a San Diego church altercation, frayed nerves weren't evident on the hardwood. Bryant dropped by the Drew League gym on Tuesday, then dropped 43 -- I talked to league commissioner Dino Smiley, who disputed the Internet/Twitter tally of 45 -- along with a buzzer-beating game-winner while matched up against James Harden. Smiley said Bryant, whose offseason has included plasma-rich platelet therapy, looked quite good at Washington Park.

“He was fresh,” said Smiley. “His spring, his jump shot was nice. Getting to the basket. His jab steps and his foot work. Everything was very good.”

Obviously, the real proof comes after a season's worth of wear, tear and grind. Still, for those concerned about Bryant's ability to maintain health and effectiveness during a presumed 2011-12 season (my hand is raised), the Mamba looking like the Mamba is a welcome sight. And the sequence drifting left to gain separation was undeniably slick.

It was also pretty awesome seeing fans mob Kobe after the shot, even if I couldn't help but picture some overzealous Mamba-ite accidentally wrenching Bryant's newly PRP'ed knee, then living the rest of his life on the run under an assumed identity. According to Smiley, this explosive reaction was a Drew League first.

“We’ve had guys hit game-winners where their teammates run on the floor. Some of their friends may run on the floor. But that right there was mind boggling. That trumped everything.”