The NBA Says Goodbye To Kobe Bryant [VIDEO]
Kobe Bryant gets buckets. It's what he was born to do. In his 20 year NBA career, he jacked up more than his fair share of shots on his way to five championships. For his final performance, he went out in the most Kobe way possible.
Everybody in the Staples Center knew those shots were going up, but who expected the Mamba to score 60? It took him 50 shots to get there, but 60 points is 60 points no matter how you cook it. He made sure to get the highest individual scoring performance of the season by a single point (Anthony Davis had 59 back in February). How Kobe of him.
All year long, he put up with young knuckleheads like Nick Young and D'Angelo Russell. For his finale, he gave them his best Ludacris impression and told them to kindly "get out the way." Even the refs cooperated with their whistles.
Everything about it was Hollywood. Name a celebrity or sports icon, they were there. Even Shaq, who Kobe rode out of town, returned to pay tribute to one of the game's greatest. A special video played before the game, featuring everybody from LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Steph Curry to Kevin Garnett and even Jack Nicholson. It made the typically stone-faced Mamba break a few smiles from ear to ear. When Pau Gasol (who Kobe openly called "soft") popped on the screen, Bryant bent over laughing.
There was only one man that could start off the tribute, Magic Johnson.
After the video, his name was announced for the last time, and the crowd went nuts. Then he went out and gave them exactly what they wanted, buckets.
Even though his body is a shade of what it once was, he exerted every ounce of energy to take us all back. The jab step was there. The fadeaway was on point. He only made six three pointers (out of 21 attempts), but some of them were right in the face of a defender. Hand down, man down. He played 42 minutes, and his shoulder is sure to be sore after throwing up that many jumpers.
The icing on the Kobe cake was the win. Everybody was so wrapped up in his performance that the scoreline pretty much became irrelevant. He stole the show like only a star could.
Love him or hate him, the league won't have another Kobe Bryant for a long time. He openly wore the villain's mask better than most in the history of the league, yet he had the respect of pretty much every player in the modern era. There are players in the league right now that grew up watching Kobe. He took R&B star Brandy to his high school prom, and she still has the dress. Then he went straight from high school to the NBA, where he balled out for two decades and banked an absurd amount of money. He was larger than life in the basketball world, and now he's stepping off the big stage.
We'll surely see more of Kobe Bryant, in some shape and form. He could make more money as an analyst, pursue a coaching career, or simply kick back and enjoy the benefits of living in Los Angeles. Who knows, with his tenacity, you couldn't rule out any career move.
A lot of times, goodbyes aren't nearly as good as in the movies. Kobe made sure the Lakers got the blockbuster they wanted, then he closed the curtain.