Former NBA pro Jalen Rose intentionally injured Kobe Bryant during the 2000 NBA Finals.
That revelation comes from Rose on The Jalen Rose Show, a podcast on Grantland.com. He claims that when Bryant went up for a shot, Rose himself broke one of basketball’s most important unwritten rules — sticking your foot under an opposing player after contesting a shot. The idea is, that when they come down, they could roll an ankle or worse, rendering them unable to play.
In the 2000 NBA Finals, Rose was playing for the Indiana Pacers against Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Heavy underdogs, the Pacers needed any advantage they could find. L.A. dominated game one, but game two was close. Bryant went up for a shot in the second quarter, and came down on Rose’s foot, injuring himself. He played just nine minutes in that game and missed game three.
Accidents happen, but was it an accident?
“Did you purposely put your foot underneath him when he landed?” producer Dave Jacoby asks, as reported by Ball Don’t Lie. “Don’t lie to me. Jalen, don’t lie to the people.”
“I think I did it on purpose,” Rose says in the video. Later after more prodding he says, “I can’t say it was an accident.”
The Los Angeles Times‘ website showed a video from the finals when the incident took place, and it doesn’t look intentional, but if Rose says it was, who’s to say it wasn’t?
The gambit worked, but not well enough. The Lakers still won game two, but with Bryant out the Pacers got back into the series by winning game three. Bryant played through the pain though and Rose didn’t get his ring after all.
Rose seems to acknowledge karma has already punished him for his actions, suggesting that Bryant’s 81-point performance five years later against the Toronto Raptors — a team Rose was on and a game in which he at times guarded Bryant — was retribution.