The competitiveness had been flushed out of the Los Angeles Lakers' season months ago, and Kobe Bryant grudgingly settled into the ceremonial nature of this final run. Every day now, he has to settle for "This is Your Life, Kobe Bryant." One by one, they come calling. Here, it was Hakeem Olajuwon. James Harden. Elvin Hayes. Calvin Murphy. Steve Francis. One more interlude of, "Do you remember the time?" with old adversaries and older legends.

Between the bows and waves, the posed pictures and signed sneakers and endless line of bro hugs, something happened on Sunday. Suddenly, something surfaced in another loss at the Toyota Center. Old Kobe, old times. Twenty seasons on the job, two games left in his career and Kobe Bryant gave the Rockets 35 points on an array of beautiful, daring and famous shots.

"I should not still be doing this," Bryant told The Vertical. "But I am."