The 2011-12 NBA lockout made fans and players alike appreciative of the impact that StreetBall has had on the overall game of basketball. Everywhere you looked, NBA players were mixing it up with local blacktop legends in some of America’s toughest basketball circuits; from New York’s hallowed parks, DC, Los Angeles as well as the pro-starved Seattle circuit, devoid of top flight hoops since the Sonics bolted town for Oklahoma City and were renamed the Thunder. With that being said, NBA stars were trying to one up each other on a seemingly nightly basis. KD dropped 60+ at the Rucker in Harlem, LeBron made his rounds and Brandon Jennings challenged himself by shutting down almost every court he played on. However, one matchup in particular took the cake.
Kobe Bryant, the NBA’s resident owner of the best 2-guard on the planet title, vs. James Harden, the bearded one still a season away from breaking off the chains placed on him by Scott Brooks and OKC’s brass.
It would be Kobe’s only appearance of the summer. Harden a Los Angeles native, was more than up to the task of going after a guy who’s dominated HIS CITY for the better part of a decade. Certainly must see TV.
Harden came out with his guns blazing. Kobe, unenthused at first, slowly upped the ante. 45 points and a game winner for Kobe. 44 Points and the respect of a legend for James Harden. That moment in time, in a crowd packed, standing room only gym, in Los Angeles helped serve as a launching point for Harden’s meteoric rise up NBA folklore. Kobe, ever the elder statesman, well has continued to be Kobe. The measuring stick that a lot of these young ballers use to gauge their abilities.
The lockout provided stellar basketball through the summer, as well as heightened the demand for NBA ball once the season resumed on Christmas Day 2011.