Kobe Scores 60 Points in Farewell Victory
The Lakers star wrapped up his 20-year career with a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant went out with a Hollywood ending to his remarkable career.
Bryant scored 60 points in his final game Wednesday night, wrapping up 20 years in the NBA with an unbelievable offensive showcase in the Los Angeles Lakers' 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz.
He scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, posting his first 50-point game since February 2009 and rallying the Lakers from a 15-point deficit to win the final game of the worst season in franchise history. "It's hard to believe it happened this way," Bryant said. "I'm still shocked about it."
"The perfect ending would have been a championship," Bryant said with a smile. "But tonight was (me) trying to go out, play hard and try to put on a show as much as I possibly could. It felt good to be able to do that one last time."
Bryant played 42 minutes and took a career-high 50 shots, his teammates attempting to set him up for points on nearly every possession. He also had four assists and four rebounds in his highest-scoring performance since getting 61 against New York in 2009. Kobe came up with the fifth highest-scoring game of his career. He became the oldest player to score 50 points in an NBA game.
"It just didn't surprise me, the way he would go out," said Lakers coach Byron Scott, Bryant's teammate in his rookie season. "Sixty points wasn't a surprise. I knew he had it in him."
The entire night was a tribute to Bryant, who is retiring after 20 seasons, five championship rings and 18 All-Star selections with the Lakers, who honored him before and after the game. Bryant is just the fifth player in NBA history to play 20 seasons, and the first with just one team.
Bryant briefly addressed the crowd after the game, expressing thanks for the fans' support. "I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout," Bryant said. "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."
Bryant surpassed his previous career high of 47 shots, taken in a loss to Boston on Nov. 7, 2002.
"Mamba out!" Bryant said with his final words to the fans.
It was daylong tribute with thousands of fans thronging the downtown streets around Staples Center and chanting his name from the early afternoon on. Fans lucky enough to get inside Staples Center greeted him with ovations at every opportunity. Magic Johnson anchored a brief pregame tribute by calling Bryant "the biggest and greatest celebrity we've had in this town for 20 years" and "the greatest to wear the purple and gold."