"There were a lot of points there where I got emotional," Bryant said. "When I first ran out of the tunnel. When I put on my jersey. When those moments happen you catch yourself. You have got to block that out because none of it makes a difference if you go out there and completely lay an egg and mess up the situation.
Scottie Pippen: 60 points and a win. Amazing. Fans in LA got their money's worth tonight. #MambaDay #ThankYouKobe
Mike Trudell: Kobe message to young guys: "Don’t be that guy. Get yourself in the gym, work as hard as you possible can. Hopefully they got the message."
Mike Trudell: Kobe to the media: “I don’t think you understand the impact you have on players with what you write, good and bad. I want to thank you."
Mark Cuban: Dang @Kobe Bryant. You couldn't go for 62 and move us down your list :) Your left handed turnaround 3 is still yr greatest shot ever #legend
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."
Ryan Ward: Kobe Bryant on how vital hatred from opposing fans was throughout his career: “Extremely necessary for me. That’s why I fed off of.”
Mike Trudell: Kobe said he was deeply touched by @Magic Johnson's introductory tribute tonight: “(Magic Johnson) will always be number one for me."
Evan Turner: Still can't believe I witnessed the Mamba's 60 point performance, I will remember it forever. #legend
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.
Jody Genessy: Metta World Peace: "Everybody asks how many shots Kobe's going to take. Who knows?" #MambaDay
Mike Mazzeo: A fan paid $55,000 for two courtside tickets to see Kobe Bryant's final game, per @darrenrovell.
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.
AC Milan: It has been a pleasure watching a true Rossonero dominate the @NBA for all these years. Thank you @kobebryant #KB20
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.”
“I'm thankful,” Bryant said. “I'm not sad at all. I left no stone unturned, I gave everything to the game for 20 years in the NBA and more before that. So I feel very thankful to be able to play this game this long.”
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.
“These are really NBA Finals prices,” SeatGeek spokesperson Chris Leyden said. “That’s pretty outrageous for a meaningless game for a team that hasn’t been successful for a couple seasons. It shows what Kobe means to the franchise. He’s a player who comes around every 10 years at best. The finals happen every year.”
Team USA made a gold-medal run, and the squad was dubbed the Redeem Team after it stumbled to a bronze medal finish in 2004. Bryant was a team captain. Wade came off the bench. “It was important for us to get back on the right track with the USA team, and that was a special team that we had,” Wade said. “The relationships that came out of there, myself and Kobe, you see it now with the relationship that we have -- it’s just a total amount of respect.”
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."
Had the Lakers still been a contender – had everything not crumbled around him – Bryant swears this would all be so different, so much more suited to his persona. "The ovations wouldn't be here," Bryant told The Vertical. "We'd be amidst cutthroat competition. In this season, I've been able to come up for air, take the blinders off, look around, soak it all in – and say thank you. Had we been competing for a championship, there's no way I'd allow all this to happen. We'd have one goal in mind and that would be winning the championship. "In the end, this wasn't hard to accept. I can accept reality and move on."
Baxter Holmes: Lakers coach Byron Scott on Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game on April 13 vs. Utah: "I almost just want to play him 48 minutes."
Ben Bolch: Clippers rookie Branden Dawson called getting to guard Kobe Bryant "one of the best moments of my life."
Fans looking to acquire commemorative items to celebrate the end of Kobe Bryant's career better have a healthy bank account. Limited-edition items conceived by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which runs the Staples Center and its merchandise, will run the gamut, from snakeskin texture jerseys for $424 all the way up to a hat that costs $38,024.
October 5, 2022 | 12:55 pm EDT Update
“It would mean everything in the world to me to be back in the NBA,” DeMarcus Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “I know I belong in this league. I feel like I’ve paid my dues and earned my stripes. I’ve hit some bumps in the road with injuries and I’ve always worked my way back to be 100 percent healthy. I’ve worked my tail off to get back to this point. I just want the opportunity to show the work I’ve put in and continue to put in. I also just want an opportunity to also earn my keep and that’s all I really want. I have a lot left in the tank. A whole lot. I feel like I’ve actually become an even better player, just sharpening all my skills. I’ve had nothing but time in the gym. I’ve gotten better in all aspects of my game.
But NBA executives continue to have questions about his character and what he brings to a locker room. In a phone interview with Yahoo Sports from his home in Las Vegas, the 6-foot-10 center sought to provide answers to those questions. “Have I made mistakes? Absolutely,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “Have I done things the wrong way? Absolutely. For that, I’m very apologetic. But I’ve done even more things the correct way and I’ve done even more positive things compared to my negatives. I just don’t want those positives to be overlooked. And obviously, whenever it gets to the point where the negatives outweigh the positives, you should probably move away from him. That’s just how life goes. But I don’t believe I’m in that boat. I’m just asking for a chance to show my growth as a man and a player.”
Cousins said he’s working out every day from basketball drill sessions, conditioning, weight lifting and body maintenance. He’s doing it all without a guarantee of ever touching an NBA court again. But that’s his motivation. “I’m just trying to control what I can control,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “This process can get repetitive and get to the point where it can kind of drive you crazy, but you just have to fall in love with the process. Every day I’m working out to make sure I’m better than I was the previous day. So whenever the opportunity does come about and my name is called upon, I’ll be prepared.”
Christos Tsaltas: Wizards guard/forward Corey Kispert will miss approximately 4-6 weeks due to a sprained left ankle. Kispert suffered the injury after stepping on an opponent’s foot during the first quarter of Sunday’s preseason game in Japan vs. the Golden State Warriors. #DCAboveAll
October 5, 2022 | 12:40 pm EDT Update
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ ongoing battle for the starting small forward spot will be one player short in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Sources tell cleveland.com Dylan Windler did not make the trip for the preseason opener against the 76ers because of an injured right ankle suffered near the end of practice Tuesday. Windler stayed back in Cleveland for treatment. A source says the right ankle injury is considered “minor.”
Shaquille O’Neal brought up the topic of James and him closing in on Abdul-Jabbar’s record on the show “IMPAULSIVE” (at the 26:42 mark) and said that James passing Abdul-Jabbar’s record actually has him jealous. “LeBron’s about to do something that hasn’t been done in a long time and I think he will put his move up there,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “To pass up Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I can truthfully say I’m jealous of that feat.” Although he said that Michael Jordan is the greatest player ever in his eyes, he had plenty of praise for LeBron James and the record he is about to break.