One year ago, Kobe Bryant scored a still-hard-to-believe 60 points in his final NBA game.
Bryant didn’t expect to go out in such a monumental way, but once the ball went up, The Black Mamba realized his performance would be memorable one way or another.
Riding dead legs to 60 points and the win — Kobe Bryant remembers his stunning finale: https://t.co/bYQLnduuQV
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) April 12, 2017
Kobe says his stunning finale is the one game in his 20-year career that he can watch, and “just enjoy.”
“After the first couple minutes, I was like, ‘Oh, s—,'” Bryant says. “It became apparent really, really quickly that this night was not going to go down with me just playing OK. It was either going to have to be an epic one or the worst one ever, because they were just going to keep throwing me the damn ball and the crowd wanted me to shoot every time — almost to the point where I felt bad for my teammates, because if they took a shot, the crowd was ready to boo. So it was like, ‘Oh, s—. I gotta go.'”
In part because Bryant is working on a documentary about that season, the five-time champion and third all-time leading scorer in NBA history (behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone) has watched the footage of his final game, largely focusing on the closing minutes.
In that final 3:15, Bryant scored 15 points — making all five of his field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, and all four of his free throws — to spearhead a game-turning 17-2 run. For Bryant, the all-time Lakers leader in points, field goals, 3-pointers, steals and games played, those last few minutes are as surreal now as they seemed to many watching in real time. “It felt that way watching it, watching it and going, ‘No way, no, that’s not going to happen,'” he says. He enjoys watching the fan reaction, hearing the commentary. In other instances, he might have watched film of himself and found areas to critique. The finale is different.
“That’s the one game I can watch,” Kobe Bryant says, “and just enjoy.”