Kobe Bryant's Stats, Highlights and Reaction from Final NBA Game

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2016

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant gestures during the first half of Bryant's last NBA basketball game, against the Utah Jazz, on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Kobe Bryant called it quits Wednesday night in a way only he could. 

While the Los Angeles Lakers appeared destined for a loss to the Utah Jazz in the final game of the Black Mamba's historic 20-year NBA career, Bryant cooked up a signature performance for the ages as he dropped 60 points on 50 shots to hand the purple and gold a 101-96 win at a raucous Staples Center. 

The 60-point game was the sixth of Bryant's career, and it left LeBron James in awe: 

Bryant's 60-point explosion was also the highest scoring game in the NBA all season, and he broke Michael Jordan's single-game field-goal attempt record in the process, according to Basketball-Reference.com

ESPN Stats & Info offered a look at Bryant's final shot chart: 

In a vintage performance that conjured up memories of his glory days, Bryant's commitment to volume scoring and shooting served as a brilliant tribute to the style of play that ingratiated him to fans over the past couple of decades. 

Pregame Festivities

Kobe's final game wouldn't have been complete without some chill-inducing pregame tributes, and the Lakers pulled out all the stops to shower one of the franchise's true legends with the praise he deserved.

From montages including former teammates and NBA luminaries to Laker legend Magic Johnson calling Kobe "the greatest to wear the purple and gold" during a special in-person presentation, according to the Orange County Register's Bill Oram, the festivities appeared to genuinely touch Kobe as he watched from the bench before making his way to center court, per the NBA on Twitter: 

However, the sentimental segments were just the start of what proved to be a memorable night filled with buckets galore. 

A Fitting Finale

Lakers head coach Byron Scott previously told reporters his message to the team during timeouts has been, "Get KB the ball," according to ESPN.com's Baxter Holmes, and the team didn't deviate from that plan.

Bryant opened things sluggishly with an 0-of-5 start from the floor, but he quickly put those early woes behind him as he drained five shots in a row.

Kobe didn't rest in the first quarter, piling up 15 of the Lakers' 19 points in the opening frame on 5-of-13 shooting—a number that proved to be quite significant, according to ESPN Stats & Info: 

As the 37-year-old caught fire, Los Angeles Clippers microwave scorer extraordinaire Jamal Crawford discussed the surreal nature of the moment: 

Kobe finished the first half with 22 points on 7-of-20 shooting (2-of-9 from three)—numbers that were generally rarities even during full games his final season. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Kobe attempted 20 field goals in a full game just 19 times this season prior to Wednesday night, and he eclipsed the 22-point total a meager 17 times

ESPN.com's J.A. Adande conjured up a fitting analogy as Bryant bombed away:

Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer joined the party as Bryant topped 30 points and 30 field-goal attempts by the time the third quarter came to a close:

Of course, one final electric display from Bryant wouldn't have been complete without some signature jawing—even if it did come against an unlikely foe, according to Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano:  

Just minutes into his final NBA quarter, Kobe blasted through the 40-point barrier. In doing so, he joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Dirk Nowitzki as the only players to cross that statistical threshold at age 37 or older, per ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon.  

And according to Mike Trudell of the team's official website, it was the 135th time Kobe topped 40 points during his illustrious career. 

CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli joked that Bryant may have been so encouraged by his own turn-back-the-clock stylings that another go-around could be in order: 

Bryant then poured in 23 points in the fourth quarter, including 17 straight at one point to give the Lakers a lead as they jumped in front and never looked back with their fearless leader scoring like old times. 

With clutch shot after clutch shot falling through the net like Bryant was in his mid-20s, CBS Sports' Matt Moore was among those who couldn't believe what he was seeing—especially after the living legend looked like a shell of his prime self all season:   

Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher noted that it wouldn't have been like Bryant to lie down with such a tremendous platform at his disposal: 

With a lasting legacy that includes five titles, a third-place perch on the all-time scoring list, one regular-season MVP, two Finals MVPs and a highlight reel full of signature moments that can prompt nostalgia in seconds, Bryant can walk away knowing he cemented his place as one of the most dominant and unique players the game will ever see. 

Postgame Reaction

Right off the bat, LeBron congratulated Bryant for his achievement in a video for UNINTERRUPTED: 

Once the final buzzer sounded, Bryant addressed the Staples Center crowd and looked back on his prolific career, per the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina: 

"I appreciate the journey we’ve been on…ups and downs … I think the most important part is we all stayed together throughout," Bryant said, per Trudell

NBA on ESPN on Twitter provided a final look at where Bryant stands on some of the league's most prestigious leaderboards: 

Elsewhere, the NBA on TNT's official Twitter account relayed video of Bryant's most emphatic closing statement: 

"You can't write something better than this," he added, according to the team's official Twitter account. Despite the performance, he told reporters he plans to work out tomorrow. "I have to," Bryant said, "That’s a very slippery slope."

So after all that, would Kobe consider a return to the floor? 

"I’ll never play an NBA game again," Bryant said, per Oram. "I know some people say, 'Never say never.' Never."

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