Sixty. That’s how many points Los Angeles Lakers Hall-of-Fame guard Kobe Bryant scored in the final game of his career on Wednesday- a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz. Bryant will retire after 20 seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, leaving a lasting legacy that will surely be hard to match.
The pre-game ceremonies included former Laker great Magic Johnson giving a speech to fans and praising Bryant for his loyalty and hard work over the last 20 years: that’s half of his life in the NBA (all 20 season with the Lakers). In between quarters, video tributes from former teammates, current NBA players and his friends and family, continually brought Laker fans to their feet.
Bryant started out with 15 first quarter points and continued to score in bunches for the next two and a half quarters, as teammates cleared space and found him early and often for shots. Bryant had 45 points but saw his team down ten, 94-84, with less than three and a half minutes to go in the game.
From then on, the 18 time All-Star scored 15 points without missing a shot from the field, as the chorus of cheers from the fans grew louder and louder as the Lakers came back to take the lead with under 30 seconds to play. The noise grew to a crescendo as Bryant left the court with 4.1 seconds left, his final time on the court as a player. He spoke for a few minutes to the fans after the final buzzer, thanking everyone for their support and love over the years, leaving the fans with one last quote- “Mamba out.”
*For the actual info-graphic, click the link- https://infogr.am/UsDmppAo441x4Uw0
The farewell tour started in late November, after the Philly native announced he was hanging up his shoes at seasons end via a poem on the Players Tribune, a website featuring various journalistic works by athletes. His next game, ironically in Philadelphia, saw his hometown give him thunderous applause and cheers as he began to wind down his career.
As the season wore on, no matter what struggles took place on the court, fans and fellow players offered their congratulations to a man who has tormented each and every team throughout his career. He received various gifts and ended up returning the favor by giving autographed pairs of his shoes to fellow players after games.
It all culminated on Wednesday, as throughout the day, every major sports network and the Lakers organization posted various tribute photos, collages and videos commemorating the career of Bryant.
Bryant has been a staple of hard work and determination in his 20-year career, as he has willed his team to win despite various injuries and lackluster teammates at times. He will be remembered as a player who left it all on the court, and who had a passion and heart that most people could not dream of having. Bryant finishes with 33,643 career points, good for third all-time in history, while his 11 time All-NBA first team selection is the most of anyone to ever play in the NBA.
Bryant has had many highs and lows throughout his career, but scoring 60 points in his final game will certainly resonate with fans and experts forever. No one knows for sure what Bryant will do in retirement, but one thing is for sure- he will do it with the same passion and energy that NBA fans were blessed to witness over the last 20 years.
5x NBA Champion
18x NBA All-Star
2x NBA Finals MVP
1x Regular Season MVP
81 points in a game (2nd most all-time)
11x All-NBA First Team
12x All-NBA Defensive Team
4x NBA All-Star Game MVP
2x NBA Scoring Champion
1997 Slam Dunk Champion