On January 14, the Golden State Warriors paid tribute as they said goodbye to the legendary Kobe Bryant. Though the Los Angeles Lakers fell short to the Warriors with a score of 119-98, the historic night was a highlight for all basketball fans as a whole in Oakland, California. The Oracle Arena and its Warriors fans, who are known for being the NBA’s loudest and most loyal fans, made sure that Bryant knew the impact he has made to the game.
Prior to the start of the game, the Warriors added a special tribute to the pregame introductions. A tribute video to Bryant was played from Lakers Hall of Famer and current Golden State executive, Jerry West, as Bryant’s name was called in the pregame introductions. Fans chanted his name and Bryant was also welcomed by a standing ovation.
Stephen (Steph) Curry and the Golden State Warriors did not go easy on the retiring NBA star; however, as they looked to advance their record to 37-3. The reigning NBA champs have had a historic season themselves and did not want Bryant to take away their shine. Bryant had a low-scoring game and finished with only eight points, six rebounds, and three assists in the 28 minutes that he played. Bryant was no match for the young and still-growing team.
Curry, who has risen in popularity with the Golden State Warriors over the past few seasons, finished with 26 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 30 minutes. He also made a total of eight 3-pointers, which is the eighth time this season that he has scored eight 3-pointers in a single game. This is also the 18th time in his career for hitting eight and he currently holds the record for the most in NBA history. Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors scored seven points, had nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals in 27 minutes. Klay Thompson, who also played 27 minutes, had a low-scoring game himself as he finished with 12 points, three rebounds, and one assist.
While Bryant played only 27 minutes in his last game, a few of his teammates did play well against the Golden State Warriors, as they said goodbye to Kobe Bryant. Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers’ point guard played 36 minutes and finished with 22 points, four rebounds, and one assist. Louis Williams, their shooting guard, added 21 points, four rebounds, and three assists in his 31 minutes.
Bryant checked out for the last time in the fourth quarter with 3:04 left on the time clock. He received another standing ovation from the entire, sold-out Oracle Arena, as the fans chanted his name for the last time. At the final buzzer and conclusion of the game, the Golden State Warriors said goodbye to a player who many of them grew up idolizing. Three of the Warriors players–Curry, Thompson, and Green–made sure they bid their farewells to Bryant. Bryant told them to “make history.” Curry responded with, “I got to chase you,” which Kobe mentioned he would have answered the same way. Bryant also signed Green’s game-worn shoes and wrote “Make History” as well. The Golden State Warriors received a passing of the torch from “The Mamba” at that moment.
Bryant made the announcement a few months ago that he would be retiring at the conclusion of this season, which also marks his 20th Anniversary in the NBA. He has played for the NBA since 1996 when he was drafted at the age of 18. He was the 13th overall draft pick in the first round by the Charlotte Hornets but was quickly traded to the Lakers. Despite being in the league for 20 years, he has stayed loyal to the LA Lakers and made history throughout his career. The five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, seven-time NBA All-Star, and the two-time Olympic National Team player has had a historic, iconic, and eventful run during his career and entertained basketball fans all over the world along the way.
By Tricia Manalansan
Edited by Leigh Haugh
ESPN: Kobe Bryant to Warriors: Go ‘make history’
ABC 7 News: Warriors Beat Lakers 116-98, Kobe Says Goodbye To Oracle
LA Times: Lakers fall to Warriors again in Kobe Bryant’s Oakland finale
Image Courtesy of Jeff Terrell’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License