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Kobe Bryant dominates the court in last-ever NBA game – SportsUntapped.com
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Added April 18th, 2016 by Ian

Kobe Bryant dominates the court in last-ever NBA game
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Kobe Bryant’s legendary two-decade NBA career came to a fairytale ending on April 13th when he scored 60 points in his swansong as his Los Angeles Lakers downed the Utah Jazz by a score of 101-96. Bryant managed to score 50 points in a game for the first time since February of 2009 and scored 23 in the fourth quarter to help his teammates come from behind after trailing by 15 points. It was certainly a bittersweet moment for the club and its fans though since it was also the final game of the 2015/16 NBA campaign, which ended up being the worst ever in the Lakers’ history.

It was a hell of a way to bow out of the league after 20 seasons and Bryant told the press at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, “It’s hard to believe it happened this way. I’m still shocked about it.” Bryant sank a three-point shot with 59 seconds remaining in the game and then followed it up with another with just 31 seconds left to give the hometown team a 97-96 lead. Bryant added an assist after that and left an NBA court for the last time as the Lakers’ posted just their 17th victory of the year to snap a six-game losing streak.

Bryant said he just went out to play hard in his final outing and hoped he’d be able to entertain the fans for one last time while doing so. Bryant, who retires as the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer, had 50 shots in the game for a career high as his teammates set him up all night long. His previous career high in shots was 47, which he achieved in 2002 against the Boston Celtics. Bryant’s 60 points represent the fifth-highest scoring game of his career and the 37-year-old became the oldest NBA player to reach the 50-point mark in a game. It was also Bryant’s highest-scoring performance since netting 61 points against the New York Knicks in 2009.

The Lakers soaked Bryant in champagne in the dressing room after the game, but he said champagne’s only suitable after winning a championships. Byron Scott, the Lakers’ head coach, said nothing Bryant does surprises him, so he wasn’t shocked that he could manage to put 60 points up on the scoreboard in his final encounter. Bryant also retires as an 18-time All Star and he’s won a total of five NBA championships. He’s the fifth NBA player to enjoy a 20-year career and the first one to do it with just one club.

In total, Bryant played in 1,346 regular-season games and leaves the court with 33,643 career points under his belt. He shot his 10,000th career free throw in the game, but the Lakers stilled missed the playoffs for a franchise worst three years in a row. The city of Los Angeles paid tribute to him all day long as thousands of fans converged on the Staples Center to chant his name in the afternoon. Magic Johnson hosted a pregame ceremony and told the crowd that Bryant has been the greatest and biggest celebrity Los Angeles has had in the past 20 years and is the best player ever to suit up with the Lakers.

After the game, Bryant addressed the Staple Center crowd and said, “I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout. You’ll always be in my heart, and I sincerely, sincerely appreciate it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you guys.” Things weren’t all rosy during his two-decade stint though as Bryant was charged in Colorado with sexual assault in 2003 and had a well-publicized feud with Shaquille O’Neal during his career.

 
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