Allene Wynn of Pacoima, Calif., turned 105 years old this week and celebrated her birthday at the Lakers game against the New Orleans Hornets as a guest of the team.
"It just made me feel good all over to meet him in person. I've been wanting to meet him for years," Wynn told ESPNLosAngeles.com about her interaction with Bryant. "I got to touch him. I shook hands with him and hugged him. I said, 'Wait, let me hug you, baby.' "
Bryant seemed mutually appreciative of meeting Wynn.
"That's unbelievable, 105 years old," Bryant said with a smile. "I don't think this game did anything to relax her."
Bryant shot just 3-of-21 against the Hornets and needed a late 3-pointer to lift the Lakers to victory after L.A. had squandered a 14-point lead and fell down by as many as 10 points to the undermanned New Orleans team.
Wynn, who says she watches every Lakers game she can and has a wall in her living room covered from floor to ceiling with Lakers-related photos and memorabilia, didn't let her fandom prevent her from critiquing the team.
"I told him what I thought about his playing," Wynn recalled. "I said, 'You don't play like I want you to play.' I said, 'I done came all the way over here and I don't want to see none of that sorry stuff.' "
Bryant enjoyed Wynn's no-holds-barred approach to making a first impression.
"She was awesome," Bryant said. "It was just like the female Tex Winter."
Bryant and Wynn spent about five minutes before the game together. Wynn kindly asked Bryant to remove his sunglasses and then requested that he pronounce her first name correctly. Bryant signed his game-worn sneakers for Wynn after the game: "To Allene, with love, Kobe Bryant."
Gasol had a similar encounter.
"She was excited," Gasol said. "I told her, 'Enjoy the game.' She told me, 'Well, you better win, otherwise I won't be enjoying anything.' "
Added Gasol: "She was very cool."
Wynn knows the look of a championship team, having been born 39 years before the NBA was even established as a league, and she's not writing the Lakers off this year.
"If they try and play like they should, they will [win the title]," Wynn said. "The Lakers can play ball, but they ain't done too much right lately. But they really can play. I like them. I'm not going to give up on them."
The Lakers' three-point win against the 13-39 Hornets might have been closer than it should have been, but Wynn enjoyed it just the same.
"I wouldn't have missed this for nothing," Wynn said.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.