Kobe finishes his two-decade-long career in a fashionable way as Lakers eliminate Jazz, 101-96
Entering the final page of his twenty year long career, Kobe Bryant, dubbed as "The Black Mamba", turned back the clock and hosted an amazing show in the fully occupied Staples Center crowd one final time, posting a season-high 60 points for the sixth time of his career in a 101-96 comeback effort win that eliminated the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
After scoring more than the whole Jazz team in the fourth quarter alone by himself, he left the game with 4.1 seconds left while the whole crowd erupting and chanting his name.
"I can't believe how fast 20 years went by. Man, this is crazy," Bryant said after the game.
"This is absolutely crazy ... and to be standing at center court with you guys, my teammates behind me, appreciating the journey that we've been on -- we've been through our ups, been through our downs. I think the most important part is we all stayed together throughout."
Bryant spoke about being raised as a "die-hard Laker fan" and the deal that sent him to the one of the most popular franchise that he spent 20 years with and winning five NBA rings.
"You can't write something better than this," he said.
Bryant said he was proud that he took the obligations for the team in the declining years "because we didn't run. We played through all that stuff, and we got our championships, and we did it the right way."
The retired 18-time All-Star set records in his final game. For the most attempted shots in an NBA game in the past 30 seasons by taking 50 shots and scoring 60 points in a 22-50 outing and for the most points scored by a player in his final regular-season game. No one ever reached 30 points in his final game, with John Havlicek's 29 in 1978 setting the former record.
"All I can do here is thank you guys," he told the crowd. "Thank you guys for all the years of support. Thank you guys for all the motivation. Thank you for all the inspiration."
"What can I say? Mamba out," Bryant said while flashing his smile.
The Utah Jazz missed the playoffs, which, of course, is a very embarrasing development..
“This has been a very positive season. It may not feel like that right now because we lost a game to Dallas and obviously the game had huge implications,” Snyder said. “The fact that this group was in that game in and of itself to me is an accomplishment and the fact that we were able to compete down the stretch to put ourselves in that game is a positive."
Hayward approves his coach.
“I think just based off the experiences we’ve all gained individually and collectively as a team, we’ve been in a lot of big moments,” Hayward said. “Forty wins is definitely a step up from two years ago when we had 20-whatever, so I think we’re trending in the right way.”