Though Kobe Bryant’s last season in the NBA was largely forgettable, he did go out with a bang.
In the final game of his NBA career, Kobe dropped 60 points on 50 shots against the Utah Jazz, going out as only someone like Kobe could.
While everyone knew Kobe wouldn’t finish his career with a whimper, he apparently had the epic performance planned for some time.
On Thursday, Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, a former teammate of Kobe’s, said on Sirius XM that Kobe told him over dinner near the end of the season that he would help the Rockets make the playoffs. In doing so, he also teased his grand finale.
“The last time he was in Houston, right, for his last game, we went to dinner.”
“And he said, ‘Hey man, y’all have to get into the playoffs.’ And I said, ‘I know man, we gotta win out, and Utah [Jazz] has to lose.’ And he said, ‘Well we play them the last game of the season, don’t worry about that. I’m going to take care of them for you. So you guys prepare to play Golden State [in the playoffs].’
“So, he told me what he was going to do before he did it, and he went out there and did it.”
Of course, by the time the Lakers and Jazz tipped off that night, the Rockets had actually secured a playoff spot by beating the Sacramento Kings. Thus, the Jazz were eliminated, so Kobe’s big night wasn’t technically needed. It’s also worth wondering if the Jazz would have let him go off that way had they still been competing for a playoff spot.
Nonetheless, it was a fitting conclusion to an all-time great’s career, and it’s even greater that Kobe had it planned well in advance.
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