by Joe Altaffer
Twenty seasons with the Lakers and the “Black Mamba” set records and made memories that have amazed not only Lakers fans, but fans around the world. I could talk about everything he has done from scoring over 50 points against every NBA team, to becoming a five-time world champion by defeating the rivaled 2010 Celtics, winning two gold medals for the USA in the Olympics, scoring 81 points in a single game versus the Toronto Raptors….trust me, I could go on and on. However, April 13th, 2016, added a new chapter to his storied career.
On “Mamba Day”, the 16-65 Lakers were getting ready to not only finish their last game in the season, but to help Kobe finish off his career with a bang. I’m not going to lie but the Lakers were(hopefully no longer)....terrible. In fact, arguably the worst team in the franchise’s history. With all of the dilemmas within the D’angelo Russell “snitching”, it seemed like the whole season was solely filled with bad basketball, drama, and some more bad basketball. The Lakers somehow beat the “soon to be” 73-9 Golden State Warriors, so at least we had that to remember from our 16 wins. The Lakers were set to play the recently playoff-eliminated Utah Jazz, and nosebleed seats were ranging from eight hundred dollars for a single ticket.
At 7:30p.m, NBA fans had to make a choice. Watch their favorite bandwagon team in the GSW’s who were chasing the Bulls on ESPN, or watch a “sluggish” legend not go out on his terms. Some could say that the Utah Jazz were depleted because they didn’t have the “Trifle Tower” in Rudy Gobert and would not get a playoff birth in return for winning this game. However, on March 28th, the Lakers suffered their worst lost in history in a 123-75 defeat. The game began with Kobe’s last intro, spotting stars in the crowd like Shaq and Jay-Z, and oh, Kobe missing his first five shots. At the half, the Lakers were down fourteen points and Kobe had around 28 points at the half. All of the Stephen A. Smiths and Charles Barkleys of the world didn’t even think Kobe could get this far, yet they were still certain that one thing would still occur. The Lakers would lose, like they had 65 times this season.
Fast forward to the 4th quarter and the Lakers still have a 15 point deficit to overcome. Kobe Bryant goes on to score 23 points in the 4th quarter and has 56 points while down 96-97 with 35 seconds to go in the game. Kobe has the ball in his hands and has turned back into his classic “Mamba” form. He had scored the last 12 points, and their was no way he could be stopped...not even by you Gordon Hayward. Kobe dribbled his way up the court and used his classic jumper to take the lead at 98-97. Kobe sealed the game with the same shot he came into this league with, a free throw. Kobe granted Shaq’s 50 point wish, and then some.The game ended with a 101-96 win, and Kobe pleased the crowd and his fans with his last words on the court in “Mamba Out.” Kobe’s 60 points overshadowed the Warriors by far, even though they set the best record the NBA has ever seen. Kobe took the most shots he has ever had in 50, yet went out in his own way. The Kobe way. Even though he has retired, we will still continue saying his name before we crumple up a piece of paper and take a shot.