A game of H-O-R-S-E between Kobe Bryant and a diehard Lakers fan made waves throughout the Lakers fan community this summer. If you thought a contribution to Bryant’s charity, the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, was cause for Kobe to go easy on a lifelong fan from Brooklyn, think again.
The game’s playing H-O-R-S-E right? I’m a strategist…I’m trying to win. I’m not here giving you shots you’ve been practicing for two months!” – Kobe Bryant
The devoted Kobe fan, who goes by S. Sami, dropped 40 pounds in preparation for his shootout with Bryant, a prize Sami won through a charity auction put on by Bryant and Bill Clinton back in January of 2013.
The shootout ended up being postponed after Bryant’s Achilles injury, giving S. Sami, plenty of time to prepare. Channeling his inner Kobe, S. Sami even admitted to watching footage of Kobe playing previous games of H-O-R-S-E with other opponents.
Needless to say, it wasn’t enough.
S. Sami’s months of practice got him through his first four shots, and gave him two letters worth of bragging rights. A sideline three-pointer off the glass was Bryant’s first miss.
“I think he maybe thought my first one was lucky, so he laughed it off,” S. Sami said of Bryant’s first letter. “After the second one, he became pretty competitive.”
After shrugging off his first miss with a quick expletive, Bryant commented on S. Sami’s sneaker game (a pair of Yeezy’s worth more than my car). Then, Bryant took another shot from about 25 feet deep, another miss and another letter for Bryant.
And now, let the Kobe strategy against the average joe in a game of H-O-R-S-E ensue.
Right-handed off the glass reverse.
“I didn’t practice that one,” mumbled S. Sami. “Of course you haven’t,” smirked Bryant.
Left-handed off the glass reverse. Two misses for S. Sami and two letters. All tied up.
Sami then told Bryant to start taking some actual shots. Kobe got a kick out of that one.
“I know you’ve been practicing your jump shots the whole time. I’m not going to put you in that situation.”
Bounce shot. Off the floor and off the glass from about nine-feet out.
S. Sami missed that one too. Meanwhile, the Kobe fan thought he’d take a BodyArmor break, sipping on the sports drink that Bryant has quite a large investment in.
“I said ‘I need my BodyArmor,’ S. Sami grinned while going over to take a sip of the sports drink. “He said that’s bad advertising, because you know you’re not going to win!” (Check out the video to the right of the interaction between Kobe and S. Sami)
Then a nervous airball for S. Sami, resulting in a letter and another round of trash-talking.
And the finale, a left-handed free throw that negated S. Sami’s three months of practicing trick shots.
“Stop it. Don’t act like this ain’t what I do!” Bryant smiled.
Bryant signed several pairs of shoes after their game. Then, went on to answer questions from parents at his Kobe Bryant Academy in Santa Barbara. While talking to the parents, Bryant couldn’t help but throw in a few jabs at S. Sami, using their game of H-O-R-S-E and Sami’s missed shots as an example of what their kids should be practicing.
It’s not over for S. Sami and Kobe Bryant. Apparently, expect a three-point shootout in the summer of 2015. And, in 2016, S. Sami says he’ll be going one-on-one with Bryant, who will likely have just entered retirement.
Hey Sami, make sure you double up on the ankle braces for that one, will ya?