As the 2007-08 season got underway, the Los Angeles Lakers were simply hoping Kobe Bryant would stay with them after requesting a trade during the offseason.
But against all odds, they became a good side as their young players, center Andrew Bynum in particular, showed tremendous improvement.
With a very strong 24-11 record against the Memphis Grizzlies, Bynum suffered a dislocated kneecap and a bruised bone that would keep him out for at least eight weeks.
Everyone held their breath and hoped for the best as the Lakers headed north to face the Seattle SuperSonics the following night.
Bryant scored 48 points, including the game-winning shot with 4.3 seconds left in overtime to give LA a 123-121 win.
After that, Bryant’s comments caught people’s attention during a post-game interview with Los Angeles-based KCAL-TV on the field.
“We’re a championship-level team if he’s in the lineup,” Bryant said of Bynum.
Several months after he had requested a trade and insisted he would rather play Pluto, the Black Mamba had hinted that he still saw himself as a member of the team and that it was capable of winning anything.
Of course, Christmas would come on February 1 when it took on big All-Star man Pau Gasol, and soon after, Bryant and the Lakers would finally meet their cherished destiny.