Love Kobe Bryant or hate him, for one night, everyone was a fan.
Bryant put on one of the best shows of his illustrious 20-year NBA career Wednesday, leading a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback and pouring in a season-high 60 points in a 101-96 Los Angeles Lakers win over the Utah Jazz.
The 60 points were the most by an NBA player this season. It also was the seventh 60-plus point game of Bryant’s career.
The Jazz led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, but Bryant took over, scoring 17 consecutive Lakers points — including the go-ahead jumper with 31.6 seconds left. His final points came on two made free throws to give him exactly 60.
Bryant set the record for most points by a player in the final game of his NBA career. He also set the NBA single-game shots record with 50, surpassing Michael Jordan’s 49 shots in a 1993 loss to the Orlando Magic.
Prior to the game, the Lakers honored Bryant with a touching ceremony that included several congratulations from NBA stars, legends and former Lakers teammates. Shaquille O’Neal, who won three consecutive championships with Bryant from 2000 to 2002, called him “the greatest Laker ever.”
Apparently, Shaq also issued Kobe one final challenge.
Bryant exited the court for the final time with 4.1 seconds left on the clock, receiving a rousing ovation. After the final buzzer rang, he addressed the Staples Center crowd from center court, thanking them for all their support through the good times and the bad.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports Images
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