Rahshaun Haylock (CBS) — Kobe Bryant went to the All Star Game in Orlando and returned with a fractured nose and a concussion.

From a fractured nose out of the All Star break emerged a superhero.

Meet The Masked Mamba.
Just when you thought you’ve seen everything from Kobe, now 16 years in, he puts on the mask and reaches superhero heights.

Watching him spin baseline, only to be held up by Dwyane Wade, I couldn’t help but to think “who does that in the All Star Game.” I thought “really?”

I never thought it was malicious or of ill-content on Wade’s part but just unnecessary.

Once I found out later that night that Kobe’s nose was fractured, I thought it was lame.  It would be one thing if the foul occured in the last five minutes of the game when everyone was “giving it their all,” but to have it happen at the beginning of the third quarter when the players had barely broken a sweat coming out of the locker room at halftime was baffling to me.

How does that happen in an All Star Game for crying out loud? At the time, I didn’t realize the opportunity that awaited for Kobe to further prove to the world just what type of competitor he is.

Last week I heard one of the announcers for the Minnesota Timberwolves tell our own John Ireland how lucky he was to be able to see Kobe Bryant play everyday.  I think he was talking to all of Los Angeles when he said that.

Kobe has elevated his game over the last three games since unveiling the mask.  With it, he’s averaging 34 points per game while shooting 54% from the field.  His previous three games before the All Star break, he averaged 22.3 points per game and shot 36.9% from the field.  His assist to turnover ratio has even improved.

No matter the circumstances, #24 rises to the challenge.  The mask is no different.


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