Last night is the only time in history when 60 will be worth much more than 73. Kobe Bean Bryant ended his 20 year NBA career last night scoring 60 points while hitting multiple clutch jump shots in a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz. A few minutes before that, the Golden State Warriors earned their record 73rd regular season win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Kobe scoring 60 points is nothing new, he has done it 5 times. Kobe taking 50 shots is a career high but totally not out of character, he has missed the most shots in NBA history. During Kobe’s last season we did experience something new though. The depth, compassion and respect we saw from Kobe during his farewell season totally obliterates all the things we thought he was.
Kobe made his name as a cold hearted competitor. There are tons of stories from teammates and even a book from his former head coach Phil Jackson which paint Kobe as a win at all costs type of player. Championships meant more to Bryant than the relationships he had in the locker room. However, without a realistic shot at any team success the past three seasons in LA, Kobe has had to find other motivation to fuel his game.
Throughout this season, it seems as if that motivation has come in the form in coaching his super young teammates and solidifying relationships with his peers around the league. At the end of each game this season Kobe gave out more hugs than Barney. In numerous interviews he praised the superstars of our era and openly offered his wisdom to all who needed it. All this from a guy who once said:
“Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. … I was shooting 45 times a game [in 2007]. What was I supposed to do? Pass it into Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown?”
“There’s certain players that I’ve made cry. If I can make you cry by being sarcastic, then I really don’t want to play with you in the playoffs.”
Even though this seems like a new Kobe, he has had no issue being open in the past. Probably too open. During his time with Shaquille O’Neal in LA, the two would frequently communicate through the media. Kobe always thought Shaq was lazy in practice, and Shaq thought Kobe took too many shots. The worst of it came when the jabs at each other became personal. During Kobe’s sexual assault trial, for some reason he suggested that Shaq had paid off women that he had extra marital relations with:
Eventually, Kobe grew up and two have made up. Through Kobe’s jovial farewell season, he has made these minor missteps seem irrelevant. Our first thoughts will always go to his precise movements and planned actions on the basketball court that made him an all time great.
The last stand of Kobe Bryant is something I’ll definitely tell my future kids about as they watch the final games of Steph Curry or Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis. The Kobe that smile, hugs and scored 60 in his final game, is what will resonate for years to come. But the drama, mistakes and overall hatred for his should by opposing fans is what made him more interesting than the average superstar. Probably even more interesting than MJ.
Cleveland Cavaliers free agent forward LeBron James has decided to play with the Miami Heat next season. James says his heart remains in the Cleveland area and noted how much he appreciated the love and support they showed him for seven years. James also mentioned that is was time for a change and that the opportunity to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is a great one. The opportunity to win a championship with two other All-Star talents is something that was worth more than the extra money James could have received if he stayed with the Cavs.
James broke the news on ESPN during his hour-long special titled, “The Decision”. Leading up to the show, ESPN Insider Chris Broussard reported that most of his sources had James joining the Heat. The show also brought James a lot of criticism regarding the attention he was seeking by drawing out his decision and making it into a dramatic movie.
When James joins Bosh and Wade in Miami, his scoring and overall dominance will have to take a hit to keep the other stars happy. The max contracts that the all three demand will make it difficult for the organization to fill the Heat roster with capable NBA players. However, the Miami Heat will be the super-team of the NBA. James feels he, Bosh and Wade’s talents could lift each other up and eventually lead them to multiple championships.
The verdict is still out on whether or not the Heat will be championship contenders this upcoming season. The mental toughness of James and Bosh in long and tough playoff series is still up in the air. However, what we all should do is applaud James’ commitment to winning which obviously out weighed his desire to “get paid”. Also, James never compared himself to Kobe Bryant or Micheal Jordan, we did that. James joining the Heat is a reflection on his commitment to winning, which is something we can use to compare him to MJ and Kobe.
As an NBA fan, I am excited to see what the three All-Stars can do. As a die-hard Knicks fan, I AM UPPPPP-SETTTT!!!!