Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game to finish his 20-year career in the league with a dazzling showcase of his offensive prowess.
The veteran nicknamed the Black Mamba scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, making it his first 50-point game since February 2009.
His team, the Los Angeles Lakers was trailing with a 15 point gap behind Utah Jazz, but Bryant entered to rally his team as he had so many times before to win the game by 101-96.
With the entire Staples Center crowd standing in anticipation, Bryant netted a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left, and another after 27 seconds, making it 97-96. He ith an assist before checking out for good with 4.1 seconds left in just the Lakers’ 17th win of the season.
“It’s hard to believe it happened this way,” Bryant said with a smile. “I’m still shocked about it.”
“The perfect ending would have been a championship. 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.”
It was indeed, one last classic Black Mamba performance.
The Lakers honored Bryant before and after the game, who is retiring after 20 seasons, five championship rings and 18 All-Star selections with the. As an entire night dedicated Bryant wraps up, he became the fifth player in NBA history to play 20 seasons, and the first with just one team.
Kobe became the oldest player to score 50 points in an NBA game in what was fifth highest-scoring game of his career. He also took another honor by gathering 50 shots in 42 minutes of play, surpassing his previous career high of 47 shots, taken in a loss to the Boston Celtics on 7 November 2002.
Bryant briefly addressed the crowd after the game, expressing thanks for the fans’ support.
“Mamba out!” he said with much finality.