But when Bryant collapsed onto the ground with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, Warriors Coach Mark Jackson apparently initially thought that he was faking an injury.
"Even in the midst of going against him, I'm in huddle, I'm saying, 'Don't fall for the okeydoke. He's all right. Don't allow him to take over this game,' not knowing that he was really hurt," Jackson told reporters.
Bryant hobbled to the free throw line and proceeded to make two free throws, a moment that epitomized the Laker superstar's toughness. After those shots, Jackson could have called a timeout to allow Bryant to return to the bench, but he didn't. It's a move the coach feels bad about to this day.
"If I would've known Kobe Bryant was hurt I would've called a timeout," Jackson said. "They would have not had to call a timeout. That's how much respect I have for him."
Jackson apologized to Bryant during the preseason in China.
"I thought it was important to let him know that," Jackson said. "Typical Kobe. He said thank you, appreciate it and he's coming at us next time he sees us. But I feel the same way. It's mutual respect and appreciation for one of the best to do it."