KOBE BLITZS INTO THE SUNSET

Kobe Bryant signed off from the NBA in style, scoring 60 points in his final appearance for the Los Angeles Lakers.

It was the 25th 50+ game of the 37-year-old’s career at the conclusion of the worst season in the Lakers history.

And the highest points tally in the league this season was central in hauling his team on his back for one last time as they rallied to edge out the Utah Jazz 101-96.

Bryant, who shot 22-50 in 42 minutes, had 17 straight points and a total of 23 in the fourth, capping his 60 from the foul line as the chants of MVP rang out before he left the floor with 4.1 seconds left.

“I can’t believe how fast 20 years went by. It’s absolutely crazy,” he said on court as the confetti fell.

“To be standing here, with my team-mates behind me and appreciating the journey we’ve been on, we’ve been through our ups and downs, the most important thing is we staid together throughout.

“I grew up a die-hard Laker fan. I knew everything about every player ever here. So to be drafted here and spent 20 years here, you can’t write something better than this. I’m more proud, not about the championships but the down years. We didn’t run. We played through all that stuff and we got out championships and did it the right way.”

This was definitely a down year for the 17-65 Lakers but after recovering from a major Achilles injury and the aches and pains from two decades in the league, Bryant – who ended with 33,643 points, third on the all-time NBA list – left it all on the floor and walked away with no regrets.

And with the veneer from one last vintage Hollywood moment.

“The thing that had me cracking up all night long is I went though 20 years of everybody screaming at me to pass the ball. And tonight they were: ‘don’t pass it’. It’s been absolutely beautiful and I can’t believe it has come to an end.”

It almost over-shadowed that the Golden State Warriors broke the season wins record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, grabbing a 73-9 mark by beating the Memphis Grizzlies with a 125-104 victory.

And Steph Curry admitted the doubts expressed over their credibility as champions last term has spurred them on.

“It kept everybody motivated over the summer,” said Curry, who scored 46. “We wanted to have a great start to the season. And from there, we raised the bar.”

 

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