Kobe Bryant finished off his 20-season NBA career on Wednesday night in an almost unbelievable fashion.
Playing his final game, bringing end to what’s been both a miserable season for Bryant and the Lakers, Kobe went off for 60 points on 50 shots to beat the Utah Jazz.
In many ways, the game encapsulated Bryant’s career arc: he vacillated between breath-taking, physics-defying shots that electrified an adoring crowd, and moments where his body couldn’t hold up as he bricked other shots that reminded everyone watching that his time in the NBA is over. 60 points on 50 shots is, by all means, an inefficient, gunslinging performance that typifies Kobe’s career.
Thus, ironically, Kobe Bryant’s final play on an NBA court ended in the best way possible — with an assist. On a night when Bryant set the season-high in the NBA for both points scored and field goals attempted, he threw an outlet pass to Jordan Clarkson for the game-sealing dunk.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of Bryant’s game throughout his career has been his lack of passing. His assist numbers don’t reflect it — rather, Kobe has piled up assist numbers because he dominated the ball. When he did pass, it was to open teammates who could finish the play. This just didn’t happen as often as some would like.
Bryant acknowledged the play after the game, saying, “What’s funny — the thing that had me cracking up all night long — the fact that I go through 20 years of everybody screaming to pass the ball, and then the last night they’re like, ‘Don’t pass it!'”
It’s only fitting that in his final game — one in which he missed 28 shots, 15 from three — Kobe launched at will, but capped off his career with a pass.