Kobe Bryant has announced his impending retirement by the end of the season, but that did not stop the young Philadelphia 76ers squad from spoiling the Black Mamba’s final NBA game in Philly on Tuesday night.
The Sixers finally made it to the winning column this season after a 103-91 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers, which took place at the Wells Fargo Center, where a large number of fans were in attendance.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) December 2, 2015
While Philadelphia has the fourth-worst NBA home crowd attendance in the team’s seven home games, the crowd on Tuesday night filled the stadium, wearing purple and gold jerseys. The five-time NBA champion posed with Sixers great Julius Erving and former high school coach Gregg Downer at half court before the game. Bryant grew up near Philadelphia and played for Lower Merion High School in the nearby town of Ardmore.
Several highlights of Bryant’s high school and NBA careers were briefly flashed on the huge television screen inside the Wells Fargo Center, which ended with the message: “Dear Kobe: Thanks for the memories. Love Philly.”
As if turning the hands of Father Time, Bryant, 37, then started burying threes in the first few possessions of the game. The Philly crowd went wild and chanted “MVP,” after Bryant drilled his third consecutive rainbow shot.
But then the law of averages began to catch up with Kobe as he converted only one in his next 14 attempts, resulting in a dismal 7-for-26 field goals for the game, finishing with 20 points.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) December 2, 2015
When asked about the tribute given to him in Philadelphia, Bryant said that he was very thankful. “Deeply appreciative, beyond belief; I couldn’t have asked for anything better other than winning the game,” he said. He admitted that, while he wanted to sustain the level of energy like he used to, he simply couldn’t do that anymore.
Robert Covington, however, led Philadelphia (1-18) with 23 points, while Nerlens Noel and Jerami Grant had 14 apiece. The team got its first win since March 25 last season, and avoided setting a new league-worst NBA record.
Meanwhile, the Lakers (2-15) keep their cellar spot at the bottom of the Western Conference. That has been pretty much the story for Kobe Bryant this season. While he has shown flashes of brilliance here and there, he has not been that consistent in his jumpers and overall game compared to his last strong season in 2012-13. This season has been the worst for Kobe Bryant, averaging a field goal percentage of 30.5 percent, and an even worse 20.2 percent from beyond the arc. If there is one thing the Black Mamba has successfully kept in his arsenal, it’s his persistence in taking shots whenever he can.
On Sunday, Bryant posted on his social media accounts, Facebook and Twitter, his plans to officially retire from the NBA after 20 seasons in the league. The future Hall of Fame star placed the title in his heartfelt poem “Dear Basketball” to officially announce his impending retirement.
Several NBA superstars have since showed their sadness and support for Kobe, who was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Rookie Draft.
Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant said in an interview on Monday that he “idolized” Kobe Bryant.
“I did idolize Kobe Bryant. I studied him, wanted to be like him,” said the Thunder forward.
LeBron: “I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain” to meet Kobe in the 2009 Finals. https://t.co/i5zckQ4wTM
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 1, 2015
Cavaliers superstar LeBron James also shared his feelings about Kobe’s announcement, saying that he is sad that he and Kobe Bryant never faced in an NBA Finals.
[Image by Hannah Foslien, Getty Images]