The Los Angeles Rams knew they would command huge swath…

The Los Angeles Rams knew they would command huge swathes of public opinion when they announced their blockbuster trade with the Tennessee Titans for the number one pick in the draft. And indeed they did, but it happened about 12 hours after they knew the deal was in place. Knowing that Kobe was preparing to take the court for the final time of his career, the two teams didn’t want to overshadow his moment and therefore delayed the announcement until the following morning, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

More on Kobe Bryant Retirement

Kobe Bryant not only set a points record for a player of his age in his final game Wednesday night, he also helped the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Lakers break all-time industry merchandise records. On Wednesday alone, the Staples Center sold $1.2 million worth of Kobe merchandise, Sean Ryan, AEG vice president of merchandise told ESPN. Ryan said that's a single-day sales record for any arena in the world.
Dwyane Wade: What else should we have expected. It's only Kobe Bryant were talking about. 60!!!!!! You never seem to amaze. #Salute @kobebryant
Yes, Bryant had to shoot 50 times to reach 60 points. No one seemed to mind. And yes, he was exhausted, breathing so hard that his teammates wondered if he could keep going, if passing him the ball over and over, setting screens upon screens, would wipe him out before the fourth quarter. Only, he became stronger in the fourth quarter. He made big shots, including two immense 3-pointers to complete an improbable 101-96 comeback victory over the Jazz. An hour later, Bryant stood on the court with his longtime agent, Rob Pelinka, and told him about that 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that secured the victory. No legs, Rob. Nothing left. “Shot it with my arms,” Bryant said.
Whenever Bryant hit a touch stretch, he fought his way out of it. It was the story of this season, of these final few years when nothing came easy to him. “There were times where I drove to the basket and my legs were just like, ‘What, are you nuts?’ But I just throw the ball up and it goes in, and [I’m] like, ‘Thank God.’”
NBA: Dear Kobe, Thank you. Thank you for your passion, commitment, and dedication to basketball. Thank you for showing us that 24 is not just the number on your jersey, but the number of hours in a day you must devote to basketball to be the best. Thank you for giving and giving and giving.
"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.
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."
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."
Storyline: Kobe Bryant Retirement
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August 18, 2022 | 2:54 am EDT Update
Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic.
The Lakers have explored runs at Nets point guard Kyrie Irving ($36.9 million expiring contract), but it’s unclear if Brooklyn would want to include Joe Harris’ $19.9 million salary for 2023-24 as well. The Pacers have Buddy Hield, a former client of Lakers executive Rob Pelinka, at $18.6-23.3 million for next season (depending on incentives). Los Angeles has also explored a deal for Pacers center Myles Turner with the expectation that he would extend or re-sign beyond his current $17.5-20 million salary for 2022-23.
Rob Pelinka has been “very active” in attempting to add more shooting and size to the Los Angeles Lakers roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN. “Rob Pelinka has still been very active, even in the dog days of August. He’s been on the phone a lot, he’s still trying to find deals to bring in more shooting, perhaps some size. And so I think those conversations continue all the way into training camp,” said Wojnarowski on NBA Today.
Among the executives with whom I spoke, a Boston deal with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece appears to be the unofficial front-runner here. In general terms, sources say the Nets are using the fact that the Celtics (and perhaps other teams) have made their second-best player available as a baseline of sorts in negotiations. Translation: If you’re still trying to discuss a Durant deal without putting your second-best talent on the table, then just stop wasting everyone’s time and bow out of this race.