One year ago today, Kobe Bryant did something incredible. The five-time NBA champion did something that no one thought he’d be able to do nor even come close to after 20 years of wear and tear on his then-37-year-old body.
After battling through multiple season-ending injuries and doing everything within his power to fight off Father Time, the face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise put together one last great performance in front of his die hard fans at the Staples Center.
Bryant dropped 60 points in his career finale while helping lead the Lakers to victory over the Utah Jazz. Kobe seemed to have nothing left coming into his last game in a Lakers uniform, but somehow he mustered up the strength and energy to will himself to 60 points finishing with yet another unforgettable memory to for his fans and the Lakers faithful.
On the anniversary of Kobe’s incredible final performance, we asked our expert panel this week’s Lakers Nation roundtable where his 60-point performance ranks among the many great moments of his storied NBA career.
Here’s what they had to say:
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand)
Kobe scoring 60 points in his final game to me is one of the best moments of his career. I would even go as far as to put it at No. 2 behind his 81-point game.
The reason I have it that high is because of everything he went through at the end of his career, all the injuries, he still was able to give the fans one final vintage Kobe performance.
He hadn’t scored anything close to that in years, so we had almost forgotten how great he was. But he left us one final reminder when he hit clutch shot after clutch shot down the stretch and led the Lakers to one final comeback victory.
When I look back on Kobe’s career there are plenty of games to remember like the shots he hit against the Portland Trail Blazers early in his career, the playoff buzzer-beater against the Phoenix Suns, scoring 62 in three quarters to outscore the Dallas Mavericks, the list goes on and on. But what I will remember most is his 81-point game, and him scoring 60 in the final game of his career.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane)
Kobe Bryant has many, many career accomplishments that, in terms of importance, out-rank his 60-point curtain call. Five championships, an MVP award, 18-time All-Star, 11-time NBA First Team, nine-time All-Defensive First Team…the list just goes on and on. We are talking about one of the greatest players ever to take to the hardwood, so his final performance in a non-playoff game in a losing season is relatively insignificant.
Still, I don’t know that there is a Kobe moment that I will treasure more than his final performance. Given everything that he showed during the season, no one could have anticipated what happened that night. It was unbelievable.
Bryant spent his career hell-bent on becoming the best basketball player he could be, pushing himself to always give more. I’ll never forget how awestruck I was at the moment when it was apparent that Bryant was exhausting the last bit of basketball he had left in him. We’ve never seen anything quite like that before, not to that degree anyway, and I don’t think we ever will again.
Superstars will come and go, but there is truly only one Kobe Bryant.
Nick Torres (@Nickotee)
Kobe Bryant had an amazing career that featured many great memories that featured his 81-point game, game-winners, and clutch shots. One memory that comes to mind is his 60-point finale against the Utah Jazz last season. The question now is where does that feat rank among his greatest moments of his NBA career?
Although it was difficult to rank Bryant’s greatest moments, I would argue that the last game of his career ranks third among his many accomplishments. The top-two, in my opinion, are his 81-point performance and defeating the Boston Celtics for his fifth NBA championship.
His 60-point finale was a reminder of the player was during his 20-year career, which is one that will be remembered forever. What made this night special was that even after dealing with injuries that ended his prior three seasons, he was still able to put on a show for the ages. He admitted he was gassed toward the game but they way he pulled through and brought the Lakers back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter is truly remarkable. While a 60-point performance in their final NBA game would have most likely been on the top of any other player’s list, I believe Bryant’s illustrious career had a few better and more satisfying moments that even that he would admit might surpass his final NBA game.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH)
It is so difficult to rank all of the amazing moments Kobe has had throughout his career, but when really thinking about it this game has to be in the top-five.
I don’t care about how forced it was with the Lakers force-feeding him the entire game or about the 5,000 illegal screens the Lakers set that night. For Kobe, at his age, to play 42 minutes and take 50 shots is unreal. For it to be leading a comeback attempt and for him to come up so clutch despite obviously being completely gassed is what makes it truly special.
The last couple of minutes that night was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, and I’m pretty sure the entire neighborhood heard my brother and I screaming at the top of our lungs with every made shot. The performance was so amazing that the Golden State Warriors breaking the single-season wins record was an afterthought that night.
I can’t put an exact placement on it, but the moment is undoubtedly top-five, right there with the 81-point game, the 2010 championship, the Achilles free throws, and the playoff game-winner against the Suns.