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.”
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.'"
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 10, 2022 | 4:20 am EDT Update
Furthermore, the first-year head coach said one wrinkle he will implement and stick with is having the offense run through Anthony Davis, and James concurred, sources said. The team has been encouraged with Davis’ offseason progression and believe he’ll be in optimum shape to avoid serious injuries and carry a heavier load.
James is finalizing a destination to host the team’s annual minicamp prior to training camp, with San Diego being the likely landing space over Las Vegas, sources said. He’s hoping to build a better rapport with teammates before entering the 2022-23 season. The meeting was deemed productive and informative. Pelinka made his feelings clear that he wants James to retire as a Laker and promised to provide him with every resource possible to compete for a championship each year he’s with the organization, sources said.
And while contract dialogue was broached, the majority of the hour-long meeting was about expressing concerns, and hearing out strategies and opinions to assure there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season’s epic failure, league sources told Yahoo Sports. James, sources said, drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion, noting that last season’s team didn’t give themselves a chance on many nights. The focus for the future Hall of Famer is competing every night in order to give themselves a chance to compete for a championship.
As for roster tinkering, Pelinka explained patience will be key in any potential moves the team makes, sources said. In a collaborative effort, all parties appear to be aligned on a common vision of seeing how the roster plays out before any drastic moves are sought.
Do you get the sense that the Lakers are trying to make two separate trades using the firsts? One with Westbrook and one with Horton-Tucker/Nunn/etc.? — @crownroyalpapi_ Jovan Buha: Yes, insofar as I think the ultimate price to trade Westbrook will include attaching two first-round picks. If the Lakers can finagle an alternate outcome — be it a pick swap or two second-round picks — that’s a win for them, in my opinion. That seems unlikely, though, which is why there’s a possibility Westbrook isn’t traded. Between the two trades mentioned, the Lakers would prefer the Irving option. I think that’s a deal they’d eventually be willing to include two first-round picks for. I don’t think they’d be willing to do so in the Indiana deal.
Nets star Kyrie Irving wants to make it clear he does not hate coach Steve Nash or general manager Sean Marks despite what a source told The Post about his feelings Monday. “I am not sure where this narrative is coming from but Kyrie does not hate Steve nor Sean. That’s not a part of his being nor how he represents himself in the world. He’s about peace, love and acceptance,” his agent and stepmother Shetallia Riley Irving told The Post.
Durant, among other things, was not consulted on the Nets’ firing of assistant coach and director of player development Adam Harrington when the season ended, the source believes. “There are simple things that erode a relationship. You fired someone he was close to and didn’t have a conversation about it,” the source said.