In his final two NBA seasons, Kobe Bryant was a bad player and a far cry from who he was prior to his torn Achilles in April 2013.
It looked to be a sad way to go out for one of the game’s greatest players ever and someone who always seemed to raise his game to meet the challenge in front of him.
Los Angeles Lakers fans wanted one more cupful of the vintage iteration of Bryant, and they would get just that in his final game, which took place on April 13, 2016, versus the Utah Jazz.
The contest was expected to be nothing more than a love fest from Bryant and his accomplishments, but it would turn into something much more than that.
He missed his first five shots, but he started to heat up shortly afterward. At halftime, he had 22 points on 7-of-20 shooting with L.A. down 15, and although he shot well in the third quarter, the game still seemed out of reach.
With the Lakers down 94-84 with just over three minutes left in the fourth period, Bryant would go into Black Mamba mode one last time.
He hit his last five shots, as well as two free throws, giving him 60 points on a solid 22-of-50 from the field and the Lakers a 101-96 win.
It was one last classic, clutch Mamba moment, and the best possible way his career could’ve ended considering the circumstances.
After 20 long seasons in the NBA, Bryant’s career was now over, and his full body of work was truly a work of art.