The NBA might no longer be his league, and this All-Star celebration never felt like his weekend, but at the last moment Sunday night, Kobe Bryant had something to say about all that.
Los Angeles is still his town, he screamed over the Rihanna's thump and Kanye's grind.
Staples Center is still his house, he hollered through the clatter of musicians and dancers and all those silly wearing-sunglasses-indoors celebrities.
Unburdened by reality or defense, fueled by the perception of diminishment, Bryant used the NBA's 60th All-Star game to remind everyone that those 60-year-old knees can still move, and that 60-watt snarl can still play.
For all those young NBA stars who showed up in neon shoes and smirks, Bryant showed that an aging Kobe can still be the old Kobe. For Clippers rookie Blake Griffin, whose Saturday night dunks left the basketball world speechless, Bryant had three special words.
Not so fast.
The future is Blake's, but the present still belongs to Kobe after Bryant's 37-point, 14-rebound effort led the West to a 148-143 victory that even turned a hip a Staples Center crowd into sentimental old fools.