In a city where the big screen serves as a canvas for boundless imagination, there aren’t many filmmakers in Hollywood who could have written a better script for Kobe Bryant’s final hours on the court and make it believable. On the final game of his 20-year career, Bryant scored 60 points, took 50 shots, and led the Lakers to a victory over the Utah Jazz.
From a sport’s perspective, the game was pointless. Both teams were eliminated from the playoffs and the Lakers had already solidified its place as the worst team in franchise history. But when viewing it as Kobe’s going away party, the game had the magnitude and feel of a game 7 during the NBA Finals.
The game also had the price of an NBA Finals ticket, as the lowest ticket price on the secondary market was just under $1K. Reportedly, one fan laid down $55K for a pair of court side seats. It’s a ludicrous action for most, but it was worth every penny for the fortunate person who has a vast amount of disposable income.
This was a moment that will never happen again. Kobe will never score 60 points, while Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Magic Johnson, Shaq O’Neal, Snoop Dogg and others watch history unfold. In fact, the night was so mesmerizing that even Kanye looked on in awe.
For the first three quarters of the game, Kanye was captured by photographers sporting his trademark mean mug, holding a blank stare as if he would rather be anywhere else in the world. But as Kobe chased 60 in the final quarter, Kanye’s face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. The two greeted each other following the game and Kanye smiled from ear to ear. Kobe being Santa Claus in the flesh, giving the gift of a final fantastic game.
The story and game truly belongs to Kobe. He won’t be remembered for the rape allegations that nearly derailed his career; he won’t be remembered for his feud with Shaq that eventually broke up a dynasty; people will forget that he wasn’t adored by many teammates and was often viewed as a loner; and most won’t remember that this year’s Lakers were an awful bunch on and off the court.
Most will disregard the tumultuous journey. All that matters now is the victory lap. Before the credits rolled, the theatrics of a 60-point game proved that all heroes don’t die. It’s all said and done and Kobe was able to write his own ending.