Gordon Hayward Debunks Theory About Kobe Bryant’s Final NBA Game

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Gordon Hayward wants to set the record straight about Kobe Bryant’s legendary swan song.

Bryant’s tragic death Sunday prompted countless folks around the sports world to share their favorite memories and stories of the Los Angeles Lakers icon. For NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico, an apparent display of respect in Bryant’s final NBA game came to mind.

It wasn’t entirely Bryant’s 60 points against Utah that captivated Tirico. As he explained to The Ringer on Monday, Tirico was thoroughly impressed by a perceived gesture by then-Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, who appeared to blatantly step into the lane before Bryant shot his final free throw of the game, which eclipsed the 60-point threshold. Why? Had Bryant missed, he likely would have received another opportunity to reach the mark given Hayward’s infraction.

You can listen to Tirico run down his interpretation of the sequence in the video below:

While Hayward began to receive an outpouring of praise upon Tirico’s clip going viral, he quickly cleared things up. As the Boston Celtics star explained in a Twitter thread, Bryant earned every single point he notched that night at Staples Center in April 2016.

Tirico was appreciative of Hayward speaking up.

Hayward’s probably right. Bryant was as fierce of a competitor as they come, and offering any handouts on his final night in The Association would have been doing a disservice to one of the best the game has ever seen.

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