The crowd chanted loudly for Kobe Bryant at his 18th and final All-Star game on Sunday, February 14 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Following behind his teammates, Bryant was the last to walk onto the stage with smoke, spotlights and a crowd that erupted with cheers.
After Bryant’s achievements in the world of basketball were listed off by Lakers legend Magic Johnson, a video was introduced that played many impressive highlights and tributes from fellow teammates and NBA All-Star players such as Lebron James, Andre Drummond, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and more.
Searching for the right words, Bryant said, “Guys, I mean, I, uh. I just want to, uh, want to thank you for all your support for all these years.”
Throughout the weekend, which was devoted to Bryant, he discussed good memories and received gifts, including 30 pairs of custom Jordan sneakers from Michael Jordan, all in Bryant’s size – 14.
The Western Conference All-Stars’ 196-173 win over their East Conference counterpart amounted to a game-long tribute with many touching moments throughout.
Bryant finished the game with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting in 26 minutes. He shot 1-of-5 from three-point range and 1-of-2 from the free throw line. He added seven assists and six rebounds. Then, he checked out with 1:06 left in the fourth quarter.
Junior Luigi Umali says, “It’s sad to see a legend like Kobe hang up his jersey after looking up to him all of my life, but I was happy to see that he was respected by every player and fan in Toronto on Sunday night.”
Bryant has been playing with the Los Angeles Lakers since he was drafted in 1996. Since then, Bryant broke a handful of records and gained several titles.
In addition to Bryant’s success this All-Star weekend, he is also one of the most successful players throughout his career, and was named “one of the greatest players in the history of our game” by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Bryant was awarded the regular season’s Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in 2008. After losing in the 2008 NBA Finals, he led the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, earning the Finals MVP Award on both occasions.
In 2006, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors – the second-highest number of points scored in a game in NBA history.
In addition to his achievements in the game, Bryant currently holds numerous NBA records such as most seasons played for a single NBA player (20), Most All-Star Game points scored (280), Most All-NBA Total Selections won (16), and plenty more.
Bryant also won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1997, and was a 17-time Player of the Month.
Bryant is recognized by many as one of the greatest players in the NBA.
“The New York Times” wrote that Bryant has had “one of the most decorated careers in the history of the sport.”
Sophomore Ashley Patten says, “It’s never easy to see someone end something that they’re so great at, but it’s been a good 20 years for Bryant. He holds many records and titles; he definitely had a successful career.”
Bryant’s last game with the L.A Lakers and his career will be on April 13, 2016 against Utah. Many people will be going to watch and see one of the greatest players in NBA history end his career.
How do you feel about Kobe Bryant retiring from the NBA?
I'm so upset! He was my idol!
It's sad, but I'll get over it.
I don't really care.
Who's Kobe Bryant?