By RYAN BRAUCH
Kobe Bryant. A name known very well in the sports world and that will not change anytime soon. From his first few games up until his very last, Bryant, also known as the Black Mamba, was a star on the court and has proven to be one of the more fun players to watch.
Unfortunately, Bryant’s time on the court came to a close last Wednesday, April 13, as he and the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Utah Jazz 101-96 on Kobe’s 60-point game.
This is a Lakers team that has struggled all year to get wins with a record of 17-65, but more importantly Kobe has struggled with just staying on the floor due to injuries and general body soreness. The NBA season is hard on the body, especially if you have played for 20 years like the Mamba. Many times throughout the season, Bryant was forced to sit out or play very limited minutes as he watched his career come to an end. Fortunately, Kobe was able to muster up the strength to put on a show in his last game where Kobe was just Kobe.
Bryant concluded a spectacular career in which he was a five-time NBA champion, two- time Finals MVP, an 18-time NBA All-Star and is also the highest scorer in Lakers history.
Throughout the season, Kobe said farewell to every city as he played his last games in each arena. He also said goodbye to multiple respectable players in the game such as Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Steph Curry, Chris Paul and more as he passed on the torch to the younger NBA stars.
One thing that was very evident when watching Kobe throughout his last year in the league, is that he finally loosened up. Bryant has always been so serious when playing the game, only focussing on winning and carrying his team. But in his final year we saw Kobe laugh and smile while on the court as he appeared to just be happy to be there. Within the last few games we even saw Kobe laughing at his mistakes instead of beating himself up over them.
Taking his last stop in New Orleans as the Lakers took on the Pelicans, Kobe made a nice move to get past his defender but ended up missing the lay up and all he could do is laugh. Watching Kobe relax and soak up all of his remaining time on the court was special for all NBA fans as we got to see him have fun for a change instead of getting so carried away with it all.
The Black Mamba recorded 60 points in his final game in a Lakers uniform as he dazzledthe fans in the Staples Center. Kobe gave Lakers fans a night to remember as he paid tribute to his city who has stayed faithful to him and the organization regardless of the record they had.
This was the first time that the Black Mamba had at least 40 points all season, as his season high for scoring before was 35. During the course of his career, Kobe has been criticized for not passing the ball and taking the game into his own hands. For his last game his teammates told him not to pass the ball so Kobe did just that, he shot 44 percent in the 50 shots he took against the Jazz and still managed four assists. Bryant also played a season high 42 minutes as he soaked up his time on the court. Kobe made sure that his last “hurrah” was a memorable one.
Now that Kobe’s days in the NBA are over, what is next for the future Hall of Famer?
Will he take a coaching position, or will he join ESPN in the studios for basketball analysis where he and former teammate Shaquille O’Neal could trade jabs. As Kobe Bryant enjoys a well-deserved retirement, he awaits an induction into the NBA Hall of Fame and for the number 24 to be raised to the rafters as he gets a rise out of the Staples Center one last time.
Kobe has been in the game for what seems like forever, and will always be remembered for all of his achievements and dedication to the game. He will also be considered one of the best to ever play.
Thank you, Kobe.