Mark Medina: Kobe: "The coolest thing is my kids saw me…

More on Kobe Bryant Retirement

Bob Garcia: Kobe: "this has been an amazing for basketball fans. 73 wins that is ridiculous. What happened here tonight just made it a great night."
Mike Trudell: Kobe said he was deeply touched by @Magic Johnson's introductory tribute tonight: “(Magic Johnson) will always be number one for me."
Jeremy Lin: Congrats @kobebryant ... a fitting 60-piece and W to end an amazing career!!
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: There have been a lot of great basketball players, but few have achieved the status of Legend. Kobe Bryant became a legend the old-fashioned way, through dedication to practice, commitment to his team, enthusiasm for the game, and loyalty to the fans. To become a legend, it’s not enough to be an exceptional player, you must also be an inspiring player. That means not only inspiring kids to want to play like you, but inspiring your peers to up their game so they won’t settle for anything less than their best.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: But most important, when a legend takes the court, the fans experience a thrill of excitement in their guts that anything is possible. That at any moment, we might witness something that will shock and delight us. Kobe has been shocking, delighting, and exciting us all for to decades. Other players will rise to greatness, but few will join him in the constellation of legendary.
Twitter had all sorts of issues Wednesday night. And during the second half of Kobe Bryant’s final game, the official Lakers Twitter account mysteriously disappeared. The handle stopped showing up in Twitter searches. Really, the entire account was gone … during Kobe’s last game.
The Lakers will do a video tribute for Bryant before the game and tributes at timeouts and breaks throughout the game. After the game, Bryant will address the crowd. Buss referenced the speech given by Leonardo DiCaprio after he won an Oscar as an inspiration for the franchise's celebration of Bryant. "He made a point to say that he would not take it for granted, and that's an important thing for people in life," she said. "To know the things that are truly special and that don't happen every day and really kind of remark and honor that. To me, that's what this year was about."
On the day that Kobe Bryant will play his final NBA game, 2K Sports announced that the Lakers superstar and 18-time All-Star will grace the cover of a special version of NBA 2K17 called the "Legend Edition." This version of the professional basketball game will include all manner of Kobe-themed digital and physical content (see below). "It's a great honor to partner with 2K on the NBA 2K17 Legend Edition," Bryant said in a statement.
The present was a pearly white pair of Bryant's shoes, personally signed by the Black Mamba: "To Tony, the best defender I ever faced!" "I just put my head down and almost cried," Allen said. "He's pretty much my Michael Jordan in my eyes. And for him to be arguably one of the greatest to ever play the game, I get to actually say, ‘That guy knew who I was.'"
In the end, the term "Kobe Stopper" was a misnomer. Nobody really stopped Bryant, but the glory came in the effort -- in the competition. "After the game," Allen said, "I just told him I appreciate all the memories man, all the battles. I told him I'm gonna miss him."
Their personal grudge match boiled over in Game 5 of a 2006 first-round series between the Lakers and Suns, when Bell famously clotheslined Bryant on a drive to the basket. "He was catching it on the elbow a lot in that pinch-post area, where they ran the blind pig out of the triangle," Bell said. "It's a hard position to guard a guy on the floor because you can't be in full denial or they'll throw it over your head. You kind of have to be three-quarters because if he spins out, there's nobody behind to protect you. I'd be on his shoulder trying to half-deny him, and it opened me up. In his mind, he's probably holding me off with the left elbow while trying to receive the ball with the other hand. On my side, I was getting hit with elbows.
"I had my lip busted a couple of times," he said. "Let's be real: In the NBA, people pay to see Kobe score a lot of points. They don't pay to see Tony Allen or me or Bruce Bowen hold a guy to a lower field-goal percentage. The refs didn't do s*** about it. I don't know what precipitated it that moment. I just know that my mouth was done taking blows to it." The Suns won Game 5, and Bell was suspended for Game 6 -- which Phoenix won anyway, 126-118 in overtime. With Bell back in Bryant's face for 40-plus minutes in Game 7, the Suns eliminated the Lakers in a 121-90 blowout.
On Kobe: “As a Philly kid, I kept up with the 76ers. But Pops would always make sure that I closely studied another Philly kid, Kobe Bryant. I loved sitting with my dad and watching Kobe play, admiring the rhythm and style to his game. For us, it was almost like looking at a beautiful painting at a museum. That’s Kobe’s game.”
The fervor over the game has calmed over the last several hours, however. (TiqIQ reported the average selling price on Monday was $711.) While prices for other seats in the arena have fallen, the most expensive courtside tickets were listed for nearly $20,000 on StubHub on Tuesday. As of Tuesday morning, courtside seats on the secondary market were listed for as much as $28,000 each for the Lakers game. By contrast, similar seats for Tuesday night’s Memphis Grizzlies-Los Angeles Clippers that will also be played at Staples Center are priced under $1,000.
Anthony Slater: Kevin Durant told a cool Kobe story in advance of his final game in OKC tonight: "I've learned more from just watching him. Trying to figure out: Why is he like this? It took me a long time to figure out who he is by just watching him. We talked a lot but I like to keep those things between him and I. But for the most part, watching him every single day, how he approached being an Olympian. I remember one time after my first year in the league, we had Olympic trials in Vegas. We had a day off and that's when the young players and Olympians were all together. They had two buses ready for guys to go workout. Me and Jeff Green were the only two on the first bus and right when it was about to leave, we see Kobe walking in by himself when everybody else took the day off."
Durant: "We worked out on one end and he worked out on the other. He made 5o shots at each spot around the 3-point line. That's a lot. Takes a long time to make 5o from seven spots on the 3-point line. Just dripping in sweat. We just looked down there and said, man, he's the best player in the league and he took a bus to a high school gym to get some work in. He's old school and that's exactly what I want to be like?"
Brian Shaw: So one day I must have told him to get out of the way, and he challenged me to a game of H-O-R-S-E. To be honest, I can’t even remember what happened in the game. But the story grew and grew over the years. It started as him beating me in H-O-R-S-E, to him beating me in a game of one-on-one. It took on a life of its own. By the time Kobe got to the league and we were in the NBA Finals that first time in L.A., I had reporters coming up to me asking, with a straight face, “Did Kobe really take it to you in a game of one-on-one back in Italy?” I’m like, “What? He was 11. I was 22. Are you serious?” But that was the power of Kobe.
Horace Grant: Kobe was different. He would come right up to you during the handshake and tell you he didn’t like you and that he was going to destroy you. Seriously, he wouldn’t just say it in the pregame, he would say it in the heat of battle. He didn’t care who you were. He’d say, “I can’t believe they’re putting you on me. Are you serious? You think you can guard me?” And he wasn’t joking. He meant it. And the defender knew he meant it. That’s the difference. He would plant that seed of doubt in their mind. And when you had that seed of doubt against Kobe, it was over.
Brian Shaw: J.R. had been a star in Minnesota and Portland. He was the go-to scorer. He also had played some really good games against the Lakers. So he came in with a lot of confidence. So one day in practice, J.R. says to Kobe, “Don’t get it twisted. I’m a star too, and I used to give you buckets.” So Kobe says, “Man, you really think you could take me? Alright, after practice, me and you. One-on-one.” J.R. says, “O.K., I ain’t no punk. Let’s go.”
And it's at this point that Bryant, who has just two games left in his historic 20-season NBA career, starts shooting, beginning an intense, methodical and efficient session that carries a measure of mystique around the NBA. "When players go to shoot and they get there at the normal time, they never see him," said Earl Watson, a former NBA player and the Phoenix Suns' interim head coach. "So when the game starts, [in] some games and in a lot of games, he never misses, so a player is confused like, 'He just came to the game and he's on fire.' "But they don't know he was there probably [at] 1 p.m. getting up shots. So he's really unique and he's really good at how he sets the table and sets it up. Everything he does, he does with purpose."
Watson said in his 13th season with the Portland Trail Blazers, he acted as a player/coach and would arrive at every arena early with the team's young players. They planned on arriving at Staples Center early to play three-on-three, and when they came into the arena, they could hear a lone ball bouncing on the court. "I knew," Watson said, "it was Kobe." To Bryant, "the peacefulness of an empty arena that size is beautiful."
"It feels so good," Bryant told The Vertical. "For the last three years, I haven't been able to do it. Achilles. Knee. Shoulder. Serious injuries. My preparation was right. I worked and worked for my body to be able to get through this." "Coming into the season, I had the concern: Could I make it all year?" Bryant told The Vertical. "I had the fear. But I embraced that fear, and then I let it go. I realized: I can't control it. I prepare. I do all the work. If that happens, it happens. And I stopped thinking about it."
Lakers coach Byron Scott expressed frustration with the way his team is playing considering these are the final games for Kobe Bryant, who has five games left and is retiring this summer after a 20-season NBA career. "It bothers me that his last five, six, seven, eight games are going to be with the way we're playing as a team," Scott said. "That bothers me, because you're talking about a champion. That bothers me, because he is a champion. And I hate to see him go out this way. Unfortunately this is the way it's going to be.
Thomas, raised a Bryant fan by his die-hard Lakers fan father, admitted he's happy to send Bryant into retirement with a loss in his final game against Boston. But he still admires him. "That's the best player of my generation. He changed the game, not just on the court, but off the court," Thomas said. "He means a lot. That's my favorite player, so it means a lot to share the same court with him and be able to compete against him."
Said Lakers coach Byron Scott: “I expect him to play unless I hear differently.” After all, Bryant only has seven games left of his 20-year NBA career. “I sense he wants to play all seven of these games,” Scott said. “We haven’t put a minute restriction or anything like that. He wants to make sure he plays, and I’m sure he will.”
Dwyane Wade: One last time! @kobebryant thank you for all the memories and giving me a level of greatness to shoot for when I came into this league. I've never stopped trying to get on your eye level. This picture is one of my favorite moments and it came playing with Kobe in the 08' Beijing Olympic... Him on one wing and me on the other. Man oh Man that was scary..#kb20 #respect
The offer involved playing Euroleague games only. The goal was to get Kobe Bryant to have a European farewell tour.
Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman still believes that 37-year-old Kobe Bryant, who is retiring this summer after 20 seasons in the NBA, can play in this league beyond this season. "I don't know why he's retiring," Wittman said Sunday after his team's 101-88 win over Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. "I might ask him to come play for the Wizards next year." Bryant scored 17 points on six-of-15 shooting from the field against the Wizards on Sunday.
If Bryant and Wade both play, it'll be the 20th head-to-head meeting. Wade — who, like Bryant, has worn only one professional uniform — and the Heat have an 11-8 edge in those matchups. Bryant didn't play when the Lakers visited Miami earlier this season. Players have taken to asking for Bryant for certain souvenirs like jerseys or sneakers this season. Wade will have a request as well for a memento from their final matchup, though he isn't sure what yet. "Trying to think of something different," Wade said. "I'm asking for something. It's crazy that it's our last time playing him and we're asking for something."
Bryant’s remarkable 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers is entering its final days, but the more than 33,000 points, 18 All-Star teams and five NBA titles might never have been if not for his time at Lower Merion High in suburban Philadelphia. It was here that Bryant emerged from science and English classes to become an iconic sports superstar. “Lower Merion and everything associated with it made me who I am,” Bryant said recently.
Lasman can attest to that. Bryant has thanked him for a pair of clutch free throws he made in the 1996 state final on each of the handful of occasions they have met over the years. “(Kobe) was a difficult teammate in terms of how demanding he was,” said Downer, who has won two subsequent state titles. “But I think he was a good teammate in the sense that he held people accountable. I just don’t think he had real natural leadership skills at that age. His form of communication was ‘If you’re not giving 110%, you’re going to hear from me.’ ”
Exactly how does Bryant determine who's worthy of receiving a pair of his sneakers? Surprisingly, it's not all that complicated. "Generally, guys that got the cojones to ask, I give it to them," Bryant told reporters (video above) about his giveaway protocol following last night's game.
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