Whatever anyone paid to see Kobe Bryant play his final game Wednesday — and there were reports of courtside seats going for over $27,000 — there’s no way he or she thinks it wasn’t worth it. Before a frenzied crowd at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the 37-year-old Lakers superstar paid farewell to his 20-year career by dropping an astounding 60 points on the Jazz.
The massive total, tied for the fifth-highest of Bryant’s prolific career, came on 22-of-50 shooting (the rest of the Lakers combined for 35 shot attempts), and Los Angeles needed all of those points as it squeaked past Utah, 101-96. With the woeful Lakers long since eliminated from the playoffs, the game was always going to be all about Bryant, but that just made it all the more remarkable as he caught fire in the fourth quarter and led his team back from a 14-point deficit.
Kobe Bryant: oldest player in NBA history to score 60 points in a single game (via @eliassports)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 14, 2016
The 60 points were the most scored in the NBA this season, and they were the most ever for an NBA player in his final game. With quite a flourish, Bryant finished his career with 33,643 points, the third-most in league history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928). Bryant’s idol, Michael Jordan is fourth with 32,292 points.
Speaking of Jordan, Bryant’s heroics came on a night when the record of 72 regular season wins he set with the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls was broken by the Warriors. Golden State’s chase for that mark had come to overshadow the final stages of Bryant’s career, but the “Black Mamba” proved up to the challenge of stealing those headlines right back.
Sixty points and the victory in his final game. Legend. pic.twitter.com/bIipRQ1HIQ
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 14, 2016
Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 but traded soon after to the Lakers, with whom he has spent his entire career. Five NBA championships, one MVP award, two scoring titles and 18 all-star game appearances later, Bryant can claim to be the greatest player in a franchise history that includes the likes of Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West.
Certainly, no Laker can claim to have gone out in such dramatic fashion.