In today's clash against the Chicago Bulls, Victor Oladipo made his return from injury; his first game since he ruptured his right quad tendon in a win against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 23 last year.
And he didn't miss a beat.
With the 15.3 seconds left and the Pacers down three, Oladipo shot a clutch three to tie the scores up at 100-100.
Victor Oladipo from deep to tie it for the @Pacers in his return to action. pic.twitter.com/hShG72sxCN- NBA (@NBA) January 30, 2020
His shot eventually forced OT where the Pacers clinched it by outscoring the Bulls 15-6.
Oladipo didn't play a single minute in overtime and finished with nine points, four assists, and two rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench. In the post-game on-court interview, Oladipo dedicated that shot to Kobe Bryant and all victims of the helicopter crash which claimed his life, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers.
"I just shot it, man. I just shot it, man. Mamba Mentality," Oladipo said. "Mamba Mentality. Mamba Mentality, man. That's for Kobe, Gigi and all the people on that helicopter, that's for them."
Mamba Mentality pic.twitter.com/2fFT1GQG11- NBA (@NBA) January 30, 2020
"He wasn't passing that ball. That's a shot he's been practicing all summer long," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said at the post game press conference. "That's the shot he has been working on in his rehab."
Pre-game, Oladipo honored Bryant by entering the arena with his #8 All-Star jersey and then later donned a pair of Kobe's during warm-ups.
.@VicOladipo honoring Kobe and Gianna Bryant tonight. pic.twitter.com/p3fJc27URK- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 29, 2020
He checked into the game midway through the first quarter to a standing ovation at the Bankers LifeFieldhouse in Indiana.
Victor Oladipo checks in for the first time since January 2019.- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 30, 2020
Pacers fans welcome him back with a standing O 👏 pic.twitter.com/HkAnVy3Um9
As a team, the Pacers had six players finish in double figures led by 25 points from TJ Warren on 10-of-15 shooting, as they clinched their eighth win in the last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Bulls were led by Zach LaVine's 20 points and nine assists, suffereing their 10th loss of January from 16 games.