By: Colton Wood
One day removed from one of the most historic days in basketball history, the thoughts and memories are still fresh in our heads and will be for a long time. Kobe Bryant, arguably one of the best players to step on a NBA court, played his last NBA game and the Golden State Warriors won their chase for history as they ended the regular season with the best record in NBA history at 73 wins.
For Bryant, decorations and memories surrounded the Staples Center honoring the “Black Mamba” who played every game in his 20 years in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The pregame festivities included a tribute video featuring athletes among the likes of Steph Curry, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Lamar Odom.
The start of the game was slow for the Lakers and for Kobe. Minutes later, Kobe found his shot. The Staples Center erupted.
Bryant ended up scoring 15 points in the first quarter as the Lakers trailed the Utah Jazz who had just been eliminated from playoff contention minutes before the game 21-19.
Kobe was scheduled to play all of the first quarter, some of the second, the entire third, and some in the fourth. However, after getting in a scoring run after the half, Kobe urged Lakers’ coach Byron Scott to keep him in for the entire fourth quarter. He was only a few points away from getting 50. A mark he hadn’t reached in years.
The Lakers were still trailing, but after another Kobe scoring performance late in the fourth quarter, the Lakers quickly cut their deficit. Kobe had already made two free throws to reach 50 points, but he was closing in on 60.
With just over :31 left in the final quarter, a Kobe Bryant made 20-foot jumper finally gave the Lakers the lead. The Jazz had to now come back to win, but after Utah’s Trey Lyles missed a layup, they had to foul. This would send Bryant to the line to shoot two free throws and to reach 60 points. He made them both.
With four seconds remaining in the game, Kobe checked out of his final NBA game. Fans standing and cheering in support gave Bryant one great send off and thank you. The Lakers won the game 101-96, but that wasn’t the main focus for fans that night.
After the last second came off the clock, Kobe finished his last NBA game in a season in what has been the worst in franchise history, but that did not matter to Laker fans last night. Bryant was 22-50 from the field while recording 60 points in the farewell victory.
Teammates, opponents, former players, and family rushed to Kobe to extend their congrats. Kobe addressed the fans and talked about his ride with the Lakers and thanked them for their support. Kobe ended his farewell speech with, “Mamba out.”
It may not seem real to some, but that would be the last time we see Kobe compete in the NBA. At 37, he has built a resume very few in the game will experience. He is leaving as a five time NBA champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, a MVP, and an eighteen-time All-Star. What a career it has been.
(Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)