ANYONE that remembers the year 2000 remembers that there was a lot to take in. A new era had begun; not just in sports, but in life. The PlayStation 2 came out, the computer virus known as ILOVEYOU began; George Bush became President of the United States after the historic recount in Florida and Kobe Bryant was at the ripe age of 21. If you’re like me, you were still holding onto hope for Stockton and Malone to bring glory to Utah… and waiting for the next episode of SpongeBob to come on; but hey, what can I say, I was young.
Yes, it’s hard to believe the year 2000 was twelve years ago and even harder to bare the thought that at the time, Kobe Bryant was just a two-time All-Star and an All-NBA Second Team player. Close to being just another face in the league, Kobe was on the verge of winning his first NBA championship, when an almost fatal injury occurred.
After getting lit up and losing by 17 in game one of the 2000 NBA Finals, thanks to Shaq’s monster performance of 43 points on 21-for-31 shooting, 19 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in 44 minutes, the Pacers came out firing in game two, keeping up with the young Lakers team and being squared up at 28 after the first quarter. In the second quarter, as Bryant received the ball on the right wing, gave his signature stare and jab step routine to Jalen Rose, and proceeded to nail his Kobe-esque jumper as we know him to today, there was one exception to his flawless routine; the landing was not as subtle as it generally is. Bryant landed on Rose’s extended foot and rolled his ankle when he came down and unfortunately for Bryant, he did miss some time.
Kobe played a mere nine minutes in game two before leaving with the ankle injury and did not play at all in game three, in an attempt to nurse his ankle back to full strength. Granted, Kobe’s Lakers went on to win game two by seven without the young star for the majority of the game, but did lose game three, however, to Rose and the Pacers 100-91.
Although it’s been a little over twelve years since the incident, it was brought back to light on Tuesday when Rose hosted his podcast with producer, Dave Jacoby, on Grantland’s Network, an affiliate with ESPN.com, and said, “Anybody that’s ever played basketball… I’m about to give you the number one unwritten rule in the sport. When somebody goes up for a jumpshot, you do not stick your foot where they’re going to land. Because you twist, sprain and can break someone’s ankle.” Rose continued by saying that he has done it throughout his career, not just in high school, but in college and professionally as well, to which he added, “Another subject for another day I’m going to tell you who I did it to and how the karma came back to bite me.” Jacoby, being intrigued, quickly asked, “Why don’t you tell me now?” To which Rose jokingly responded, “I will.”
Rose’s first account of him intentionally placing his foot under a shooter was of game two of the 2000 NBA Finals, against Kobe “Bean” Bryant, as Rose calls him, early in the second quarter.
“Now, if it was up to me? If it was up to me? He should’ve just missed the whole series,” Rose says. “I would’ve had a championship ring, and it’d be no harm, no foul.”
“Did you purposely put your foot underneath him when he landed?” Jacoby asks. “Don’t lie to me. Jalen, don’t lie to the people.”
“I think I did it on purpose,” Rose says.
“You think you did it on purpose? You won’t even cop to it?” Jacoby responds. “You won’t even say, ‘Yes, I did it.’ ‘I think?’”
“I can’t say that it was an accident,” Rose replied.
Rose then gives us a lesson in karma when he brings up that he was a member of the 2005-2006 Toronto Raptors when they were victim to Bryant’s historic 81-point showcase, the second-highest point total in NBA history, surpassed only by Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlains 100-point game in 1962.
“They say, ‘Jalen, how come somebody didn’t hack the guy?;” Rose mocked ‘”How come somebody didn’t close-line the guy?’ Well I just tried in the NBA Finals, now the guy’s getting me back. That was my payback for dealing with the Black Mamba.”
Kobe turned out okay, we all know this; as it stands right now he’s noted by many respectable profiles associated with college basketball and the NBA , as well as a plethora of fans, as the second greatest player to ever play the game only behind Michael Jordan. What if the situation had taken an alternative direction, though? What if Kobe tears his Achilles tendon, is forced out of the NBA Finals and is obligated to rehab and a lengthy offseason of pain and struggle? That’s not a standard injury and not an easy one to come back from. Even in today’s world of modern medicine the average time-table for return is 11 months, which would mean Kobe wouldn’t be playing again until late into the 2001 playoffs, at the earliest. Given that an Achilles tear is a very drastic measure, let’s say it’s other torn tendons or even a break. With the mobility required in ones ankle to make cuts, jump and all of the other countless moves you can make as a player, a full recovery for a severe ankle injury is never guaranteed and often a player is effected by it for the remainder of his career
A dozen years later, Bryant has earned four more rings, giving him five total, only one behind MJ. Add on an NBA Finals MVP to those rings and tack on 12 additional All-Star game appearances and it has been a hell of a career for the Black Mamba. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we never had the joy of seeing him hit those game winners and win those championships and instead be forced to potentially watch the man struggle for the remainder of what could have been a condensed career? Rose doesn’t think an apology is needed at the end of the day and claimed so when he stated on ESPN’s “Numbers Never Lie.” “I can’t [apologize]… I respect Kobe Bryant but I was trying to give Reggie Miller and our team a chance at a championship.”
Let’s get some feed back on this, basketball fans, fair or foul what Jalen Rose did to Kobe Bryant and should he apologize to him twelve years later?