Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant brought his storied career to a close with a season record 60 point game, as his Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 101-96.
Bryant’s retirement game was always going to be a bonanza, and the 37 year old himself made sure to contribute to the party atmosphere with a surreal performance, that included carrying his team from a 15-point deficit and outscoring the Jazz 23-21 in the final quarter.
Thus did he bring a 20 year Lakers and 18 time all star career to a close.
Bryant announced his plans to retire earlier in the season, when he noted that whilst he wanted to continue, his body was giving him unmistakable signs it was all over.
Bryant led the Lakers to consecutive titles in 2009 and 2010 during the golden years, and won the Finals Most Valuable Player both times. He won many other awards in his storied career, although the Lakers have fallen off the past few years, he has consistently remained one of the league’s top stars.
“I can’t believe how fast 20 years went by. Man, this is crazy,” he said, addressing the crowd after the game.
“This is absolutely crazy … and to be standing at centre 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.”
“I grew up a die-hard Laker fan – die-hard – so to be drafted and traded to this organisation and spend 20 years here, you can’t write something like that.” He added.
Bryant received many pre-recorded tributes on the night, from celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift: and from fellow NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal, Derek Fisher, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Gregg Popovich, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Paul Gasol, Lamar Odom, Kevin Garnett, Phil Jackson and Jack Nicholson.