A few hours ago Kobe Bryant played his last NBA game and greeted the league in his own way, scoring 60 points in the 101-96 win against the Utah Jazz. Needless to say, the Los Angeles Lakers champion also scored the decisive points for the win but this was above all a celebration of a player who, both loved and hated, is already a legend.
Born on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant is different from other players also for his life experiences. His father, Joe Bryant, was a basketball player as well and in the ’80s played in the Italian league so little Kobe grew up in a culture different from his, also exposed to soccer, so much that is an AC Milan fan.
Despite the distance, Kobe Bryant has always had the NBA in his aim, and after his family moved back to the USA, he prepared to play among the best in the world. In 1996, he decided to go directly from high school to the NBA and was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. However, he wanted to play for the Los Angeles Lakers and their general Jerry West manager set up a big trade that brought to the Lakers both Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe Bryant’s career has been analyzed thoroughly, not only from a technical point of view but also in his relationships with his fellow players, especially the one with Shaquille O’Neal, and with coach Phil Jackson, with whom he won his 5 NBA titles. It’s never been easier to play with him nor manage it for his coaches but his obsession with basketball and his will to win are also recognized by his detractors. The “Black Mamba” nickname is certainly not accidental.
After his achilles tendon injury in 2013, Kobe Bryant was able to play only pieces of seasons but even in these last games showed why he’s already a legend. Tonight’s game was more a matter of emotions that technique but Kobe Bryant wanted to give 110% knowing that this would be his NBA goodbye.
With the 60 points scored last night, Kobe Bryant added a final piece to his legend with one last record, the one for the oldest player to score at least 60 points in an NBA game. To celebrate him there was also the friend / foe Shaquille O’Neal among many basketball and cinema star, starting with the super-fan Jack Nicholson, who came to watch a very special game.
Kobe Bryant was moved much more in his farewell speech after the end of the game in which he thanked the fans, his wife and daughters. It was a career end really in Hollywood style for a special player who left a significant mark on basketball.