SPORTS

Kobe Bryant: Remembering the final game of ‘The Black Mamba’

Jan 26, 2020, 5:37 PM
Kobe Bryant playing against the Utah Jazz...
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, has died. Bryant played 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. He won five NBA championships and was an 18-time All Star. Bryant, seen here, reacts in the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA. Credit: Harry How/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA (CNN) — Gone but never forgotten. As tributes poured in remembering Kobe Bryant’s remarkable basketball career following his death in a helicopter crash on Sunday in California, fans were left cherishing countless memories as they mourned the NBA great’s passing.

Fans’ final vision of Bryant in a purple and gold uniform four years ago was like many before as the Los Angeles Lakers’ legend scored a spectacular 60 points in his farewell NBA game.

Outside the arena before the game against the Utah Jazz on that day in April 13, 2016, fans had chanted, “Ko-be! Ko-be!”

One fan, who with his two buddies paid $4,200 for three $34 tickets, told CNN they came from Oregon to watch the final game.

“He’s the greatest of our generation,” he said. “He’s been a great inspiration for all of us.”

Bryant had announced that season would be his last in a poignant letter written in the form of a poem on The Players’ Tribune.

“This season is all I have left to give,” he wrote in “Dear Basketball.” “My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

“And that’s OK. I’m ready to let you go.”

If injuries had made too many of his final contests a struggle, Bryant completed his glorious 20-year career with the style that made him a five-time NBA champion.

He showed the tenacity, toughness and talent that made him one of the all-time greats in basketball history.

‘Don’t pass it’

And unlike many games in his farewell season, Bryant’s heroics helped to bring victory. Trailing the Utah Jazz for most of that night, it was Bryant that sparked the Lakers in the fourth quarter, rallying them single-handedly to a 101-96 win.

Then with 4.1 seconds remaining, Bryant left the game. He was swarmed on the court afterward by former teammates and coaches.

“I can’t believe how fast 20 years went by,” Bryant told the Staples Center crowd as he thanked the fans, his teammates and his family.

He recalled how it was his dream to play for the Lakers, his favorite team growing up.

“You can’t write something better than this,” he said.

Bryant, who made 22 of 50 shots, laughed in his farewell speech because he’d been told for two decades to pass the ball.

On the last night, he said, his teammates were telling him: “Don’t pass it!”

Bryant, whom Magic Johnson referred to in a pregame ceremony as the greatest Laker, finished his speech with “Mamba out” — a reference to his nickname, “The Black Mamba” — a kiss and a literal mic drop.

How great was Bryant as he bid farewell to the NBA?

He outscored the Jazz in the fourth quarter 23-21. With his team trailing with just under six minutes to go, Bryant scored 17 consecutive points for his team.

With 40 seconds remaining, Bryant got the ball with his team down 1 point.

It was a scene NBA fans have seen so many times before. Bryant dribbled the ball upcourt, surveyed the defense, headed to his left then reversed course to use a screen. With his man respecting Bryant’s ability to drive, the legend pulled up from just inside the 3-point line with 31 seconds remaining.

As soon as the ball left his shooting hand he knew it, the Jazz knew it, 19,000 Lakers fans knew it and the watching TV audience knew it.

Quintessential Kobe. He knocked it down. Another game-winner for a highlight reel full of mesmerizing moments.

Today’s Top Stories

Sports

Utah Falconz team members cheer in celebration...
Mark Jackson

Women’s football team Utah Falconz heads to national championship

Utah's semi-pro tackle women's football team, the Utah Falconz, will head to Texas on June 26 to face off against the Texas Elite Spartans.
10 days ago
boys soccer Utah injuries...
Becky Bruce

High school boys’ soccer put on probation for the high number of ejections

SALT LAKE CITY — The growing number of ejections in high school boys’ soccer prompted the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) to issue a yellow card, of sorts, for the sport. In soccer, a player or coach is ejected when they receive a red card. In such situations, a substitute for the disqualified player […]
12 days ago
FILE - United States gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nich...
ED WHITE Associated Press

Simone Biles, other women seek $1B-plus from FBI over Nassar

The approximately 90 claimants who said they were sexually assaulted include Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, all Olympic gold medalists.
17 days ago
Figure skate age Olympics...
Associated Press

Figure skating minimum age rises to 17 before 2026 Olympics

The age limit will be phased in with 16-year-olds allowed to compete in the 2023-24 season. It will then rise to 17 for the season before the Olympics.
18 days ago
utah jazz coach...
TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

Quin Snyder ends his tenure as Utah Jazz coach after 8 seasons

Snyder released a statement through the team, part of it simply saying "it is time." Snyder went 372-264 with the Jazz.
19 days ago
CORRECTS TO GAME 2 INSTEAD OF GAME 1 - Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole (3) celebrates afte...
TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer

Warriors answer in Game 2, top Celtics 107-88 to even Finals

Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Jordan Poole connected from just inside of midcourt to cap a huge third-quarter run and the Golden State Warriors evened the NBA Finals at a game apiece by beating the Boston Celtics 107-88 on Sunday night.
19 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Kobe Bryant: Remembering the final game of ‘The Black Mamba’