Kobe Bryant, ever the competitor, was steaming after the Lakers-Hawks game Wednesday a game won by the Hawks. The fact that the Lakers lost wasn’t lost on Bryant. What made him extra hot was the play Dahntay Jones made late in the game that Kobe thought was dangerous and borderline dirty.
“I can’t get my mind past the fact that I’ve got to wait a year to get revenge,” Bryant told reporters after he severely sprained his ankle and blamed Jones for sliding underneath him after he went up for the potential game-tying shot. In so many words, Kobe basically threw down the gauntlet on Jones and Hawks next season when the Lakers face the Hawks again.
”First and foremost, the officials really need to protect shooters,” Bryant said. ”You just can’t go into shooters. That’s a dangerous play.”
The injury occurred with the Lakers trailing by two, after Bryant put up a baseline jumper that slid off the rim with 3 seconds remaining. As he came down, his left foot landed on Jones’ right foot, twisting it awkwardly. Bryant remained down for a few seconds then hobbled to the bench accompanied by the trainer. Bryant said it’s the worst ankle sprain he’s had in his 16-year career.
“I don’t ever want to put that on somebody,” Bryant said. “I really don’t. I just think players need to be made conscious of it. I think the officials need to protect players. Period.”
Shooters hate it when a defender slides underneath them while they’re up air. Former San Antonio Spurs guard Bruce Bowen was notorious for moves like that, earning Bowen a reputation for being a dirty player. Jones went on Twitter to explain his side, and claims that it was Bryant who initiated the contact by kicking his leg out which made him lose balance and fall awkwardly on the floor. Watch the play and you be the judge who is right and who is wrong: