The great career of Laker legend Kobe Bryant has ended. Bryant played his final game on April 13, against the Utah Jazz. He scored 60 points on 50 shots, dished 4 assists, and grabbed 4 rebounds in 42 minutes of playing time. Staples Center was sold out, with fans coming together one final time to witness a once in a generation talent play basketball. It was a meaningless game, in the sense that both the Lakers and Jazz were eliminated from playoff contention, but it was meaningful for everyone involved, especially Bryant himself. Before the game, the Lakers brought many all-time greats and former teammates of Bryant to congratulate him on a monumental career, from Magic Johnson to James Worthy and Shaquille O’Neal. Emotions were running high before the game, the Lakers also played two tribute videos about Bryant before the game, and another at halftime.
Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft, and was later traded on draft night to the Los Angeles Lakers. 20 years later, his career has come to a close. Bryant’s 20-year tenure with the Lakers set an NBA record this year, passing John Stockton’s previous record of 19 years with the Utah Jazz.
Throughout Bryant’s career, he has done some pretty amazing things on the basketball court. He scored 81 points in a game, the second highest in history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, he won 5 NBA Championships, 3 in a row from 1999-2001, and back to back again in 2009-2010. He was MVP in 2008, and lead the league in scoring in 2006 and 2007. He was selected to 18 All Star teams, 15 All-NBA teams, and 12 All-Defensive teams. As Bryant’s career has come to a close, he finished 3rd on the all-time career scoring list, scoring 33,643 points, behind only Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The lasting legacy of Kobe will be his amazing ability to score and his unwavering confidence in that ability. He was the Michael Jordan of a younger generation, a generation who only grew up with Bryant on the Lakers for as long as they can remember. He inspired many current players today, as well as up and coming basketball players everywhere. He will be missed but will always be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play the game.