Of all the words we use to describe Kobe Bryant, "compassionate" and "understanding" are not frequently used. When you're a basketball-playing robot sent to Earth to destroy any player in an opposing jersey for 20 years, you don't have time for emotions like those. You're here to get buckets, and that's it.
But a funny thing has happened to Bryant on his 2015-2016 farewell tour: his hardened shell appears to be softening. He's been more playful with the media. He hasn't lashed out at teammates despite another difficult start to the season. And now he's even playing through soreness to appease his fans and their last opportunity to see him play basketball in their city.
Bryant has been dealing with a sore knee of late, and was planning on taking Sunday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis off. But once he saw the throng of fans rocking his jersey and cheering for him pregame, he had a chance of heart.
Kobe had a sore knee tonight: "Honestly, I wasn’t going to play.” But said he saw cheering fans before game and decided to give it a go.— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) December 28, 2015
Bryant wound up playing 24 minutes and scoring 19 points as the Lakers fell, but the final score doesn't feel like it matters here. Kobe's gesture is the story in itself.
Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to email@example.com