Kobe Bryant Finishes Historic NBA Career

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By: Anthony Barrett

One of basketball’s greats has finally called it quits.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, right, shoots as Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game as the Lakers won 101-96. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, right, shoots as Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game as the Lakers won 101-96. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, 37, announced in mid-November that he would retire from the NBA at the end of the 2015-2016 season.  Bryant went out in style scoring 60 points leading his team to victory in his final game.

Bryant attended Pennsylvania’s Lower Merion High School, where he played varsity as a freshman. He was the first to do so for Merion in decades. During his junior season, he averaged 30.8 PPG, (Points Per Game) 10.4 rebounds per game, and 5.2 assists per game. This caused Division I basketball schools such as Duke, Villanova, and North Carolina to make offers to Bryant. However, he decided to skip college and take his talents straight to the NBA

Bryant was drafted in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets. However, he was soon traded to the Los Angeles Lakers where he would spend the rest of his 20 year career.

Bryant gelled quickly with the fast paced Laker offense lead by big man Shaquille O’Neal. He won his first championship with the Lakers in 2000 and would go on to win five more, three coming back to back to back.

Bryant is one of the most awarded players in NBA history. His career achievements include 18 all star game selections, five NBA championships, four all star game MVP’s, two scoring titles, and an MVP of the NBA award. He also has won two gold medals for Team USA.

Fans cheer for Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, below, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in Los Angeles. When Kobe Bryant announced his impending retirement four months ago, the Los Angeles Lakers essentially turned their otherwise miserable season into a farewell showcase for the third-leading scorer in NBA history. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Fans cheer for Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, below, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in Los Angeles. When Kobe Bryant announced his impending retirement four months ago, the Los Angeles Lakers essentially turned their otherwise miserable season into a farewell showcase for the third-leading scorer in NBA history. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Many expected 2016 to be Kobe’s last season. He was fortunate enough to stay healthy for a large majority of his career; however, an ACL tear in 2013 drastically slowed him and his ability to drive to the basket.  

Bryant announced his retirement in November with a heartfelt poem he wrote himself titled “Dear Basketball.”

When baseball legend, Derek Jeter, announced before the 2014 season that it would be his last, he received special gifts and ceremonies when he visited opposing team’s ballparks. This became known as his “farewell tour.” The same thing was expected for Bryant; however, Bryant declined any special treatment in his final season.

Bryant played his last game against the Utah Jazz on April 13th, 2016. The Lakers went all out to send their star off into retirement the right way. Upon admission, every fan received a t-shirt with Bryant’s logo on it, spelling out love. The Lakers also inscribed Bryant’s two numbers, eight and 24, into the court. Also, they plastered the outside of the Staples Center with pictures of Bryant.

The Laker organization also had an after party planned in Bryant’s honor, but in typical Bryant fashion, he denied saying he had to work out the next morning. “I gotta go workout tomorrow. I gotta go find a new routine. It gives you a sense of purpose and it gives you a plan,” Bryant told ESPN’s Paul Biancardi.

In his last game, the Black Mamba gave a vintage performance scoring 60 points leading the Lakers to victory.

The future hall of famer will forever be remembered for his incredible jump shot, crafty post moves, and his hard work ethic.