The 2017-18 NBA regular season has come to an end. Here’s a look at which teams are facing off in the opening round of the playoffs. USA TODAY Sports
If anybody knows what it feels like to have a special night at Staples Center, it’s Kobe Bryant.
So when the retired Lakers legend joined Andre Ingram’s chorus of the inspired on Tuesday night, tweeting “LOVE IT” to his 13.9 million followers while attaching a video of the 32-year-old’s NBA debut that was a decade in the making, it brought the story full circle in a surreal kind of way.
Ingram is basketball’s answer to Moonlight Graham, the baseball player immortalized in “Field of Dreams” who spent years chasing a dream in the minor leagues only to get his one shot in the pros. Not only did Ingram get called up on Tuesday after spending 10 years playing in the NBA’s Development League, but he answered the call by scoring 19 points against the best team in the league, the Houston Rockets, while hitting six of eight shots (including four of five three-pointers).
And for Bryant, who has gone from Hall of Fame player to Oscar winner in short order after his animated short, “Dear Basketball,” won the honor last month, it’s the kind of Hollywood script that you simply can’t make up.
“It’s a gorgeous story,” Bryant, who is airing a new ESPN show called “Detail” that debuts on Thursday and will run throughout the playoffs, told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday.
Good enough for Bryant, who is in the process of building his own film studio, to consider producing it as a movie?
“Yeah, maybe,” he said with a laugh. “Who the hell knows, right?”
Ingram’s path has all the elements you need for a good show on the silver screen. When he wasn’t making $19,000 a year in the minor leagues, the Richmond, Va. native, well, moonlighted as a math tutor as a way to make extra money while also caring for his wife and young daughter. Along the way, he became the most prolific three-point shooter in the history of what is now called the G-League (713 over 10 years, including a mark of 55% from beyond the arc last season). When the Lakers suffered late-season injuries and needed another capable body for the final few games of their season, Ingram finally got the call.
“Dude, (the story is) ridiculous. Like, are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? I mean to have the courage and resolve to stick with that dream, and to now get your shot and to come through in that way? I mean, that’s impressive, man.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick on Twitter.