Over the years, the Los Angeles Lakers have been blessed with a long list of legendary players who have suited up for them, which has helped them amass 16 NBA championships.
Yet, one player stands above as arguably the greatest Laker of all time: Kobe Bryant.
Bryant spent two decades in purple and gold, becoming a permanent part of basketball culture in Los Angeles and around the world.
At the conclusion of his last season, Bryant laced up his sneakers for one final performance against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center. What happened that night would go down in Lakers history as one of their greatest moments.
On this episode of the Lakers Nation Podcast, host Trevor Lane is joined by senior writer/editor Daniel Starkand to discuss Bryant’s epic 60-point explosion in his final game. They dig into the storylines surrounding the night, what happened on the floor, and the lasting legacy that Bryant left behind.
Prior to the game against the Jazz, the 37 year old was dealing with a myriad of physical issues as he did all he could to keep playing. Having announced earlier in the season this would be the end of the road for him, he spent most postgames that season wrapped in ice packs, hoping to preserve himself as much as possible.
The hype for the game was intense as Lakers fans packed downtown Los Angeles to say goodbye to a legend. The media coverage was frenzied, matching the intense spotlight that has always followed Bryant’s career.
When the game finally began, Bryant took some time to find his rhythm, missing his first five shots. However, once he saw his sixth attempt drop, the game started to come easier to him. He reached into his bag of tricks to pull off step-back threes, jumpers in the paint, reverse layups, up-and-under shots, and more.
By halftime, Bryant had 22 points, but the Lakers were down by double-digits.
In the second half, with the minutes left in his career ticking away, Bryant put the team on his back and led them to win. The young Lakers fed the basketball to Bryant on nearly every possession and he turned in a performance for the ages, finishing the night with 60 points and bringing home a win.
It was a bittersweet moment, but Bryant’s historic accomplishment is one that will always be a favorite among NBA fans.
He left everything he had on the court that night and walked away from the game having done the impossible one last time.