Fans will remember the 2016 NBA All-Star Game at Toronto's Air Canada Centre as the highest-scoring All-Star Game in league history after the Western Conference defeated the Eastern Conference, 196-173, on Sunday.
But perhaps it will be better known as Kobe Bryant's final appearance in the contest.
The 18-time All-Star didn't disappoint, scoring 10 points, dishing out seven assists and grabbing six rebounds. While his performance was nothing close to All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook and his 31 points, Bryant may have broken one record during the game, per NBA on ESPN:
NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA
We're not entirely sure, but we think Kobe Bryant may have shattered the All-Star record for hugs. https://t.co/bDRK5vGAr42/15/2016, 4:44:06 AM
Here's some proof of Bryant obtaining the hug record, per NBA on TNT:
NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT
Farewell, #KobeBryant #NBAAllStarTO https://t.co/S4fHEVzYQD2/15/2016, 4:02:36 AM
Seemingly everyone in the league has had something to say about Bryant during his final season, and Sunday was no different.
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James called Bryant's last game "bittersweet," per NBA on ESPN. According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich felt it was "like a passing of a generation," while Westbrook said, "Everyone was inspired to see Kobe Bryant in his last game and see him on his way out."
Stephen Curry, the 2015 NBA MVP, even asked for an autograph from Bryant after the game, per TSN:
.@StephenCurry30 gets @kobebryant to sign his jersey after the game. #NBAAllStarTO https://t.co/FEIC8c1boV2/15/2016, 4:24:47 AM
Bryant, who said he was going to miss the comradery of the league during a halftime interview, enjoyed his final All-Star Game, per Sean Highkin of NBCSports.com:
It was fun. I had a blast playing with those guys, laughing and joking with them on the bench. And, you know, I got a chance to stop [former teammate] Pau [Gasol] in a post, redeem myself from what he did to me when Chicago came to town. But all those things are just fun. I had a great time. I had a great, great time.
Bryant was mic'd up during the game, and NBA on TNT shared some "Inside Trax" between the 37-year-old and many players who looked up to him when they entered the league:
NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT
All the sounds of #KobeBryant in his last All-Star Game with Inside Trax! #NBAAllStarTO https://t.co/rwae1IplOk2/15/2016, 4:47:46 AM
It may have been all smiles during the weekend, but when it came to playing over the years, Bryant was all business, per NBA TV:
NBA TV @NBATV
That's an All-Star wrap for #KobeBryant https://t.co/OtduT952pH2/15/2016, 4:39:37 AM
When All-Star Weekend is over, it'll be back to the daily grind of the league, and that won't be as enjoyable for Bryant, considering his Lakers are 11-44 and in last place in the West, but he's keeping a positive outlook, per Highkin:
You try to make the second half better than the first. And you try to forget about what happened the first half of the season in a sense of what our record is, and take this break to come in and feel like you have a clean slate, right? Mentally approach it as you’re 0-0, and see if we can’t get better. Because as the season progresses and season ends, you want to feel like free agents and other players around the league are looking at the Lakers roster and saying they have some talent and they have some potential. So that’s what we want to try to do.
The entire experience was a great way for Bryant, who will likely finish his career with five NBA championships and rank third on the all-time scoring list, to finish out the first half of his farewell tour.
It's hard to believe there won't be another NBA All-Star Game with Kobe, but it's clear he's left a lasting impression on those trying to follow in his footsteps.
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