His back hurts and his shoulder is sore from 20 years in the league and 50 god damn shots! And he’s laughing at me, at anyone, who thought he’d be at peace going out any other way. “What you saw there was the opening scene of the basketball version of the blood-spattered bride,” Bryant says. “The opening scene of ‘Kill Bill.'”
Sixty points?! On 50 shots?! "It was like I was forced to," Kobe says. "By the crowd and mostly by teammates." What was more ridiculous? That his 60 points was twice as many as any Hall of Famer has scored in his last regular-season game. That, at age 37, he was five years older than anyone else who has scored 60 points? That no one has taken 50 shots in an NBA game in 49 years? Or that his teammates didn't want him to pass? "I challenged him to score 50 points and that motherfucker got 60," O'Neal said as he stood on the court long after Kobe had left it, trying to process his final brazen act. "It would have taken me four months to get 50 shots on any of the teams I played for," Horace Grant said. "And that motherfucker took 50 in one night."
There's the obvious swipe at the narcissism that's made him at least as famous as his scoring. Of course Kobe has moved into a world of his own making. The only surprise is that he'd pass the vision to a group of writers and trust that they'd execute it better than he could. "I think Walt did this with animation, as well," he says. Yes, he's referring to Walt Disney. "He quickly realized that, although he could draw pretty well, there are other animators out there that are just much, much better. He went and found those animators and gave them the vision and allowed them to do what they do best. If you collaborate with great people and each one is enhancing the other, that's when we create things that are timeless."
Bryant seemed surprised when he and I boarded an elevator together a couple of hours before the Lakers played the Grizzlies. He recovered quickly and started asking about my daily routine — how often I filed stories, tweeted to followers, etc. He was already gathering information for his post-basketball career, which he hoped would include a website launch akin to Derek Jeter's theplayerstribune.com, of which Bryant was an original investor. Along those lines, imagine my surprise last season when Bryant didn't glare at a reporter who asked whether his career was headed the way of Michael Jordan's — slow in the beginning, plenty of championships in the middle and rough at the end for team and player.
Bryant weighed the question, then said it was fair because it was "reachable content." He almost sounded like an editor. Last November, I figured he probably wouldn't find a lengthy Times story I co-wrote with Broderick Turner to be under the same "reachable" category.
Kenny Smith's dream may actually come true ... 'cause "Inside the NBA" has reached out to Kobe Bryant to see if he wants a job, TMZ Sports has learned. Both Kenny and Shaq have publicly talked about wanting Kobe to join the panel on the TNT show after he retired from the NBA ... and now, our sources tell us the courting has officially begun.
Bill Oram: LAL GM Mitch Kupchak: "I'd put that night up against any Game 7, any championship, in terms of a performance in the last game of the season"
Tom Orsborn: Manu on Kobe: "The way he closed it out was unbelievable, the 3s, the contested shots & getting the win. It was a great goodbye party.”
Kobe Bryant not only set a points record for a player of his age in his final NBA game Wednesday night -- he also helped the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Lakers break 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.
Prices of the merchandise were certainly for the well-heeled. Most of the hats, more than 60 percent of which sold out, cost $72.48 each. There were eight hats made out of snake and lamb skin that cost $38,024 and eight hats made from cashmere with five diamonds on it that cost $24,008. Ryan said only three went unsold.
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.
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.
Damian Lillard: This is literally the moment I was told "Kobe has 60 with 10 seconds left" Amazing @Kobe Bryant!
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.’”
Here it was past midnight, and I walked up to Kobe Bryant and simply said, “You found an ending to your story, didn’t you?” “Go f---in’ figure, huh?” Kobe Bryant responded to me with a look of pure astonishment. He stared with a stone seriousness for a moment, and then dissolved into laughter and asked me: “Seriously, what the f--- happened tonight, man?”
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.
Jon Schriffen: When Steph Curry heard Kobe had 60 pts on 50 shots he couldn't believe it and said "stop playing." #MambaOut
"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.
August 16, 2022 | 2:22 am EDT Update
Chris Haynes: Minnesota Timberwolves star Rudy Gobert will face the Utah Jazz for the first time on Oct. 21 in Minnesota and will return to Utah for the first time as an opponent on Dec. 9, league sources tell @YahooSports.
Marc Stein: The Knicks are scheduled to be in Dallas for former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson’s return to Big D on Dec. 27, league sources tell me, two days after New York hosts Philadelphia on Christmas. More NBA from me: marcstein.Substack.com
Sean Cunningham: The Sacramento Kings will be opening the 2022-23 NBA season on the home court of Golden 1 Center against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 19th, according to sources. @CarmichaelDave first to report.
Windhorst went on to say the Nets aren’t coming off asking for a big return for Durant in a trade. And that Brooklyn has no leverage with other teams, same as Durant has no leverage with the Nets. “I think what we have here is really a study of leverage. First off, the Nets do not have leverage in trade talks with other teams. They are not giving them the offers that they want. They see no reason to increase them. So, they’re not making any progress there,” said Windhorst. “Kevin Durant clearly does not have leverage with the Brooklyn Nets. He is asking for things: ‘Get me traded. Fire the coach. Fire the GM.’ He is being told no. So, when you have denied leverage, you have a stalemate.”
When it comes to Simmons, his unique skill set is incredibly enticing, but his best ability will be availability. Fortunately, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, that won’t be a problem for Simmons in 2022-23: “You and Kyrie and Ben Simmons — who, by the way, news flash here. I ran into Ben Simmons. He and I had a nice conversation … I support the brother. I had a problem with him not playing. That’s the past. He’s ready to go. He swears he’s ready to go.”