Filipino basketball fans are joining an ongoing debate on classic footage that shows National Basketball Association legend Kobe Bryant seemingly not flinching even as a ball appeared to be thrown at his face.
A debate has erupted between loyalist fans of the five-time NBA champion and Twitter users who claim that “The Black Mamba” may not be the ice cold and unflinching athlete his fans believe him to be.
The video at the center of the debate is from a regular season game between Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic in 2010.
Tempers flared between Bryant and Orlando guard Matt Barnes, prompting the latter to pump a pass fake in the direction of Bryant’s face during one inbound scenario.
Barnes later confronts Bryant, prompting referees to restrain the two. Bryant however keeps his cool and smiles smugly as Barnes continues to lash out at him.
The clip with over four million views has been used in several NBA highlight videos and has been brought up to cement Bryant’s image as a composed athlete with a calculated approach to basketball.
Some NBA fans however are circulating footage taken from an overhead angle that shows Barnes actually threw the pump fake to Bryant’s right and not to his face.
He wasnt standing in front of him when he did it my whole life is a lie pic.twitter.com/8pGF2IRAjQ
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) October 2, 2018
While some believe the uncovered footage proves Bryant has yet to live up to the image his followers have of him, his most loyal fans, among them Filipinos, are coming to his defense.
Some have argued that Bryant, a nine-time member of the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team, showed his composure and basketball IQ by reading Barne’s movements and not falling for the fake.
I mean… if you've ever played basketball and someone legit fakes a pass at your face like that, you'd still flinch.
If anything, this kinda makes it cooler because Kobe didn't go for the pass fake. That was Matt Barnes throwing that shit too. https://t.co/3K4NxRy83Q
— Miguel Luis Flores (@InternetMigs) October 2, 2018
Others are pointing out that the ball was thrown close enough to Bryant’s face and any other normal human being should have reacted to an object being hurled at them at such close distance.
To all the haters. This is legit No flinch Kobe https://t.co/ijKxAqORhx
— Kevin Rei Chavez (@kevinreichavez) October 3, 2018
How can twitter dismiss this classic ain't flinching Kobe? The disrespect. Lmao le me fake throw a ball 1 inch close to your face. https://t.co/7H4URz1DWm
— Celine Alcantara (@iam_celiiine) October 2, 2018
The 40-year old, Bryant retired in 2016 is known as one of the most popular NBA players among NBA fans in the Philippines. His past exhibition events in Manila have drawn large crowds.
One study by U.S-based media outlet in 2015 discovered that Bryant had 3.5 million Facebook followers in the Philippines, the second-most among all the countries where he had established a fan base.
Barnes, who joined the Lakers in the following season, admitted in an interview after the game about throwing the fake and confessed that Bryant’s indifference “scared him a little.”
Medical research says that flinching is an instinctive response by animals and humans alike when they feel threatened.
A part of the brain called the “polysensory zone” causes movement such as blinking or squinting following the external stimuli.
The movement is usually the first phase of the reaction, followed by a more defensive reaction to the stimuli.
Bryant as of this writing has yet to comment on the debate surrounding him and explain what was actually going through his mind during the encounter with Barnes.