On this present day in 2016, probably the greatest gamers to ever don a Lakers uniform — to ever play the game of basketball — bid the NBA farewell in the one manner he knew how: with a bang.
Kobe Bryant saved one final unbelievable efficiency for his ultimate recreation, a 60-point explosion within the Staples Heart on April 13, 2016. It was a becoming finish for him, contemplating his scoring skill and aggressive nature generally compelled teammates and detractors to plead, “Cross the ball!”
There have been no such calls in Bryant’s ultimate recreation, a 101-96 win over the Jazz by which he performed 42 minutes. It wasn’t essentially the most environment friendly he’d ever been (Bryant accomplished 22 of a career-high 50 photographs), however nobody was going to take the ball out of his palms as time dwindled on his NBA profession. It was his first 50-point recreation since February 2009.
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That mentioned, it took awhile for Bryant to get on the scoreboard; he missed his first 5 photographs, not scoring his first basket — a 10-foot jumper — till seven minutes into the sport. He completed the quarter by scoring the Lakers’ ultimate 15 factors — on 5-of-5 taking pictures from the sphere — earlier than lacking his subsequent shot.
Bryant solely scored seven factors within the second quarter earlier than scoring 15 once more within the third. Nevertheless it was within the fourth quarter that Bryant cemented the legacy of his ultimate recreation. He scored 23 factors, together with 17 straight, to assist lead the Lakers to a come-from-behind win and end a disappointing season on a excessive be aware.
“It is onerous to consider it occurred this fashion,” Bryant mentioned. “I am nonetheless shocked about it. … The proper ending would have been a championship. However tonight was (me) making an attempt to exit, play onerous and attempt to placed on a present as a lot as I probably might. It felt good to have the ability to try this one final time.”