Happy Mamba Day!
Four years ago today, Kobe Bryant capped off his career by giving a whole ass 60 points to the Utah Jazz. The game is on the NBA App and worth a rewatch if you haven't seen it in a while. I watched it after he passed away and have it playing as we speak. It really is a masterpiece. He currently has 12 of the Laker's first 16 points. What's so fun about this game is that we all knew what was coming next. We know whats coming next now and we know what's coming at the time of the game: Kobe got the ball and he was going to shoot it. Maybe every single time. Hell, he deserved it after 20 years.
The thing I'll never forget about watching this game as it happened, was that at the same exact time that Jazz-Lakers kicked off, the Warriors were taking on the Grizzlies trying to get their 73rd win of the season. And as a majority, we decided to watch Kobe:
Things were much simpler then:
Golden State waxed the Grizzlies from the tip which let us know that we all made the right decision. The Lakers started Roy Hibbert in this game. This was 2016, not 1982 I promise. D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle were there, too. This was only four years ago but Roy Hibbert?? This feels like 25 years ago minimum. Jeff Withey and Shelvin Mack started for the Jazz. Of fucking course, he scored 60 points.
It was conceivable that he might just shoot every single time. One, because it was Kobe. Two, because this was it. If ever there was a time to poke fun at all the "jokes" about Kobe's ball hogging. He might legitimately shoot the ball every single time he touched it. Would he take 35 shots? 45?
The answer is all of them. He took all of the shots. He knew they were coming, the Jazz knew they were coming, and we spectating knew they were coming. It didn't matter, he was still getting a shot up and off. The Lakers being down by 15 at halftime makes the second half even better. He ended up going 22/50 from the field, 6/21 from 3P. His usage percentage for the game was 62 percent. He's 8/21 from the field at the point at the game I'm watching, and it still seems wild to know he finishes with 60 points.
How many last games of legends do we remember? Do you remember Tim Duncan's last game? Me neither. I remember the tour of Dwyane Wade's last season but I don't remember his last game, in particular. I couldn't tell you a thing about Shaq's last game or even who he played for (Celtics maybe?). But this was appointment viewing. That's what set Kobe apart. Not everybody got this kind of attention and he was ready for it, right down to dropping the mic after "Mamba out!"
This game is so bizarre to watch knowing that it was Kobe saying farewell to the league and now he's gone forever. They keep cutting to his family on the sideline and alongside Vanessa and Natalia, is Gigi. It's heartbreaking knowing that they and seven others lost their lives in that accident. It's also refreshing to know that Kobe got his flowers while he was here. This game was the ultimate bouquet for him. Every star in the house was there to see Kobe. He knew it, he loved it and he put on a show. I find solace in the fact that he got to share that moment with his family in a way that few get to do. I'm glad I was able to catch it because it's an experience I won't soon forget. Happy Mamba Day.