Last night, Kobe Bryant played his final game of basketball where he left with a bang. He made history with 6o points in a single game against the Utah Jazz. Mind you, the Lakers total score was 101. What a way to go out!
CBS Sports: Kobe Bryant ended his illustrious 20-year career in the most Kobe Bryant way possible.
Taking 50 shots, Bryant was gunning all game long. Perhaps inspired by his pregame tribute video, Bryant was in attack mode right from the opening tip, finishing the game with a season-high 60 points. With this being his last game ever, Bryant literally left it all on the floor. The Lakers rally around their retiring star as they rally past the Utah Jazz 101-96.4
WIth 30 seconds left on the clock and the lakers down by one point, Kobe was able to shake off Trey Lyles and Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz to make a shot that gave the Lakers a lead. Read what Vice Sport had to say about the game, especially since they can explain it better than I can.
The most impressive shot of the night—the one that most made him look like his younger self—came with 30 seconds left, when Bryant shouldered around a ball screen, pulled up from 20 feet, and drained a jumper to give the Lakers the lead. My favorite moment, though, happened back in the second quarter, when Bryant had just reentered the game. Isolated on the wing against Gordon Hayward, he lost his balance a bit, and Hayward pressed into him. Sensing an angle, Bryant spun on that gilded pivot foot and darted baseline for a layup, his fingers just scraping the underside of the rim.
The go-ahead jumper was a self-imitation, calling to mind the dozens of times he’s done just that thing in far tougher circumstances. The stumble-and-go, though, belonged only to that evening. It was canniness and sapped legs and a directive to put up points, by whatever means still worked.
There will surely be the temptation, in certain corners, to call the game a gimmick. Some will question whether disregarding so many of basketball’s strategic principles in order to let Bryant hoist shots really honored this iconically competitive player in the way it was meant to. People will try to find something pitiful in it, set next to the less ceremonious exits of other aged-out stars.
Bryant’s last game was not a gimmick, though. The gimmicks were the furrowed brow and the underbite and the decrees of stewardship, the grandiose dressing up of a prolonged exit as a final inspection of the sport’s soundness. Last night’s game was a pleasant ending to an arrangement always meant to maximize pleasantness. It may not have been Bryant’s best outing of the last couple years—what could that mean, in such an odd context?—but it was his most honest. It fit.
Good Luck Kobe on all your future endeavors. From all of us talkers.
Well, that is all I have to say. My lips are sealed, till next time!