*In the game Wednesday night, he did his thing in offensive showcase in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz.
Mamba, as he’s also known, 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.
With the entire Staples Center crowd standing, Bryant drained a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left. He hit another with 31 seconds to play, putting the Lakers ahead 97-96. He finished with an assist before checking out for good with 4.1 seconds left in just the Lakers’ 17th win of the worst season in franchise history.
Bryant played 42 minutes and took a career-high 50 shots to get there, his teammates attempting to set him up for shots 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.
It was the fifth highest-scoring game of his career, and he became the oldest player to score 50 points in an NBA game.
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.
After the historic game, Kobe briefly addressed the crowd, 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.”
He also had a few laughs ’cause it was truly a fun game for the Mamba.
“The thing that had me cracking up all night long is, I go through 20 years of everybody screaming to pass the ball,” Bryant said with a grin. “And then the last night, they’re like, `Don’t pass it!'”
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