If you were to pitch the storybook ending of Kobe Bryant's final NBA game to any Hollywood producer, they may not have believed what occurred Wednesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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Bryant, who recently founded Kobe Studios, an arm of Kobe Inc., in an effort to bring original stories to life through a variety of media, perhaps could not have scripted a better ending to the final game of his illustrious basketball career.
“The perfect ending would have been a championship. That’s a perfect ending to me,” Bryant said during a press conference. “Tonight was trying to go out playing hard and try to put on a show as much as I possibly could. It felt good to be able to do that one last time.”
Bryant’s 60-point performance led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 101-96 come-from-behind victory against the Utah Jazz.
The "Black Mamba," a nickname/alter ego Bryant adopted after the sub-Saharan Africa venomous snake known for its agility and aggressiveness, told sportscaster and Fox News Contributor Jim Gray moments after the game that what he will miss most is the game preparation with his teammates.
In an interview on the FOX Business Network’s Varney & Co, the veteran sportscaster provided some additional insights on Bryant’s impact to the game and what the four-time scoring champion will miss the most.
“He [Kobe] is so much into the preparation. He is so much into trying to get better tomorrow than he was yesterday. He has dedicated his life to the sport of basketball, to the game,” Gray told host Stuart Varney. “He has been at times tormented by the perfection and trying to get to that commitment of excellence that he has and he wanted out of himself first and then his teammates.”
Gray said it will be extremely difficult for Bryant to walk away from the game, a sport he has played professionally for 20 years. However, Bryant knows he made the right decision at the right time.
As one great star leaves the game, another one emerges in Stephen Curry; though the two players couldn’t be more different.
“Kobe was above the rim. He was the heir apparent and took the torch and the banner that was passed from Connie Hawkins, to Dr. J, to Michael Jordan, to Kobe Bryant,” said Gray. “Steph Curry is perhaps the greatest shooter the NBA has ever seen.”
It was a historic night Wednesday for Curry and the Golden State Warriors as well, who defeated the Memphis Grizzlies to finish the season with a 73-9 record, breaking the old 72-10 win record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
Bryant, an 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time champion addressed the faithful “Laker Nation” one last time.
“You can't write something better than this,” Kobe told the crowd after the game. “You guys will always be in my heart. What can I say? Mamba out!”