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With this being Kobe Bryant’s 20th and final season with the Lakers, the organization has been running a pretty cool feature all season called “This Day in Kobe History” (#TDIKH) where they chronicle great games or key events throughout Kobe’s career. Today, December 20th, just so happens to be one of my favorite Kobe games ever:

This game is often overshadowed by Kobe’s 81 point performance against the Raptors which came a month later (January 22, 2006). But, for my money, Kobe’s outburst 10 years ago was actually more impressive.

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Earlier in the week we talked about recent improved play from Kobe and him embracing the type of player he did not envision he would hold on to become late in his career. The last couple of games, however, Kobe has even exceeded that level of play.

It may be too early to say that this is the new norm, but we’re approaching the point where those who buried him as being “done” might do well to re-evaluate those firm statements and call them premature. Again, the sample needs to get bigger, but the fact that there’s a sample at all is encouraging.

The latest evidence of a revival came on Thursday night, where Kobe seemed intent to give us a game version of the #throwbackthursday hashtag:

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Before the Lakers played the Wizards last week, I answered a few questions for Wizards’ site Truth About It in the lead up to that game. It was mostly about the young players and my feelings in the aftermath of Kobe’s retirement announcement. One question, though, was about my three favorite Kobe “moments” from his career. I thought long and hard on that question and ultimately offered up this answer:

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I try my best to provide substantive commentary and insight on the Lakers every time I post here. But, sometimes, you just have to throw up a video and say as little as possible. That’s how I feel here.

I mean, what is there really to say? This video is fantastic and gave me the chills throughout the entire thing. And, note, this is only a trailer for a longer video that will eventually drop too. Best believe that video will get posted here too.

(h/t to @justrycole for finding the video and to Basketball Forever for putting this video together – it really is fantastic)

The Lakers may have lost to the Hawks on Friday night, but how they went about doing it wasn’t the worst thing ever. Yes, they started out slowly and allowed the Hawks to take control of the game. And, yes, Kobe had another poor shooting night. But the team, overall, still played hard throughout, battled back late in the game to get within four points, and with a little more experience may have found a way to keep it close with a chance to win at the end.

Individually, though, D’Angelo Russell’s play was one of the bright spots. While his shooting percentage wasn’t great (6-16) and he had too many turnovers (7 — though, as I’ve noted, high turnovers aren’t necessarily the worst thing for the long term development a young point guard), he was aggressive, shot the three ball well (4-7), and looked to take control of the game in the 4th quarter.

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On Thursday night, after the TNT double-header, the network aired a sit-down interview between Kobe and Ernie Johnson. The entire thing was great and the entire 7 minute clip is available below. While I wish it were longer — Johnson is one of the best in the business and Kobe always seems to give a good interview — they covered a fair amount of ground in their short time.

Check out the clip after the jump.

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With the way Kobe Byrant has played to start the season, there has been a lot of eulogizing his career. You do not have to look far to find the next read on how bad he currently his, how he should retire, and how much of a drag he is on the court in what will likely be his final season.

But this version of Kobe is not how I will remember Kobe. The Kobe I will remember is the one who dominated for a decade and a half, the Kobe who struck fear into opponents simply by walking onto the court.

This is the guy I am talking about:

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I’m all for tempering expectations when it comes to young players. Being successful is hard in the NBA. Being successful when you’re not yet even 21 years old is even harder. Players this young not only need to physically mature, but they need to figure out how the strengths they do possess translate to playing against grown men. The same is true of the mental adjustments and getting to the point where they can react to the game in front of them rather than having to think through possessions.

However, just because the learning curve exists doesn’t mean young players don’t show us flashes of what they can become. I remember watching Jordan Clarkson’s first summer league games last year and thinking “this kid has something” even though it seemed like every other possession was him trying to go too fast or not recognizing what the rest of the players on the floor were doing.

This year is no different when it comes to Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell. They are only on the bottom levels of their respective development curves, but when watching them play it’s easy to see they have something to them. This “something” was on full display in Sunday’s win over Maccabi Haifa.

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