Kobe’s Famous Dunk on Ben Wallace + The Same Game Dunk Nobody Remembers
Today is the birthday of NBA champion, 4 x All-Star and 4 x Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace. So me and a friend are talking about his very successful and surprising career and of course it was just a matter of time until we went back in time to 1997, when a 19-year-old Kobe Bryant posterized Big Ben during a preseason game after crossing his Bullets’ teammate Jimmy Oliver.
He pulls up a crappy quality copy of the dunk on YouTube and I tell him about how me and my roommates (shout out to Emmy Award winning Ryan Young on CNN) all jumped off of a couch at the same time when we saw the dunk back in 97. I then told him about Kobe’s 2nd half ankle-breaking move that led to a pretty wide open dunk because Ben didn’t want anything to do with Kobe after that first half dunk. I can see it in his eyes he thinks I’m making this up because it’s not like any of us is going to pull out any proof from 18 years ago. But I do have proof.
I dig in my closet for the VHS tape labeled ’97 Lakers’ and find the very first time this dunk was shown on ESPN Sportscenter and there it was: Kobe crossing Jimmy Oliver and then introducing himself to Ben Wallace in the first half and Kobe once again making Jimmy Oliver look bad by making him do a split before throwing down a baseline dunk that had the late great Chick Hearn and the Lakers bench celebrating.
The video clip was an in-game update but if you actually care who won the game, the Lakers did 123-121 in OT.
BIG BEN WALLACE
Maybe the best thing to come from that dunk was it motivated Ben to become the beast he became.
“Without that dunk, I don’t know if I’m the player that I am today,” Ben said to Rick Kamla “After that, I told myself ‘Ben, that’s never gonna happen again’. And you know what? It didn’t.”
(VIDEO: Check out Ben Wallace’s dunk before getting dunked on + a rare alternate angle of the infamous dunk)