Kobe Bryant’s dunk on Omeka Okafor in Game 5 of the Conference Quarter-Finals was the tipping point of the entire series. Much as been said, written and viewed regarding Bryant’s right-handed finish down the lane. Bryant had been called for a foul on former teammate Trevor Ariza the series before that, and was given the continuation call. Bryant, angered by the ref’s discretion, retaliated with a play that would have lasting effects until the Lakers eliminated the Hornets on Thursday night.
It was the kind of dunk that serves many purposes. It wasn’t about sending a message to the Hornets. It was meant to send a message to the Lakers. It was as if his frustrations for losing games 1 and 4 were all rolled up into that one play. That was Bryant’s motivational speech to his teammates.
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No doubt Bryant’s dunk will be clustered with his already lengthy highlight reel of dunks and finishes. Bryant himself commented after the game that he doesn’t have a whole lot of those left in him, so they are definitely something to be savored and enjoyed.
I’m not here to over-analyze the play. So for pure enjoyment’s sake, let’s take a look at Bryant’s top 5 statement dunks. These are the dunks in traffic. One on one. Mano a mano. No fastbreaks. Like the bomb he dropped on Okefor, these are the dunks that we enjoy like it happened yesterday.
We’ll start with Okefor’s Thursday night funeral. Statement: Enough fooling around. It’s time to win this series.
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