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What the 2008 NBA All-Star Game Ball “Kobe Bryant Edition” Collectible Represents

Kobe Bryant, Nba All Star Game

Though Kobe Bryant played fewer than three minutes in the Eastern Conference’s 134-128 victory over the Western Conference in the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, the valuable piece of collectible from this game that I received as a Christmas gift in 2008 holds a lot of significance to me. Specifically, this collectible is a frame complete with an action photo of Kobe Bryant in his Lakers uniform and also in the Western All-Stars uniform, along with a Gold Overlay Team Coin and a Gold Overlay Coin with an authentic piece of the used game ball embedded in the center.

Kobe Bryant was a non-factor in this game, the Western All-Stars lost, and Lebron James won the All-Star MVP award. So how could this collectible mean anything of significance to me? Because Kobe Bryant famously dislocated his pinky finger earlier that month. Because that very same month, the Lakers also famously acquired Pau Gasol. It was after the All-Star Break that the Lakers began to grow into a newborn powerhouse. It was also after the break that the world finally saw what a true warrior Kobe Bryant was, as he decided to play with an essentially dysfunctional pinky finger that required surgery en route to the Laker’s first NBA Finals trip since 2004. Kobe Bryant would go on to dislocate his ring finger the next year, and keep on playing despite two useless fingers on his shooting hand.

Kobe Bryant’s lack of role in this All-Star Game reminds me of the greater and more important things he went on to accomplish with the Lakers and add to his legacy. More importantly though, this collectible reminds me of that dislocated pinky, the symbol of his unparalleled drive, heart and tolerance for pain. Though the Lakers embarrassingly lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, it did not take away from the resurgent respectability for Kobe Bryant as a player, and nor did it take away from the rebirth of the Lakers. Kobe Bryant continued to overpower the pain with his competitiveness and determination, and the Lakers continued to improve, eventually going on to win two straight NBA titles.

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Today, the collectible remains hanging on the wall of my room back home. It serves as an inspiration for me–that pain can be overcome if you have the heart and drive to do so.

“Eastern Conf All-Stars v.s. Western Conf All-Stars – Recap – February 17, 2008 – ESPN.” ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in Sports. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. < http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap? gameId=280217032>