73 Wins! Kobe's Last Game!
I love this game! To me there is great significance for both games. I will talk about the Golden State Warriors first. If you went through the team individually, one by one on the surface there is not one player on that team that has the appearance of a superstar, yet they have held dominance for the past two seasons! The team's most prolific player Stephen Curry not only set the record for most 3 point shots made in a season by passing the 400 mark, but he also brought his points per game number this season to 30.1. Only 26 players in the history of the NBA have been able to accomplish that. Kevin Durant was the last to do so in 2013-2014 season. But no player ever has made 400 3 point field goals in a single season ever. Put it this way the old record was 286 3 point field goals made in a season and Steph Curry set that last season! This man beat his own record by 116 3pointers!
Now Golden State as a team is happy the season is over and ready to defend their title. And the rumor is they want to meet a healthy Cleveland Cavaliers team to silence all the haters that said they beat an injury riddled team and that they would have lost to the Cavs last year if Lebron's teammates were all healthy and able to play. Well this year it looks like all of the Cav's big three are healthy and ready, and with not much of a threat to occur in the east playoff brackets the W's could get their wish. 73-9 the most impressive and record setting regular season win-lost record ever in the NBA's history. However despite that accomplishment the W's didn't get to keep all the attention on Sports Center thanks to very aggressive "Black Mamba"!
I haven't been much of a Kobe fan ever! I especially thought him to be very overrated for much of his earlier career. I only began to personally give him the respect he deserved when he won his first title without Shaq in the 208-2009 season. Although I did raise an eye brow to the 81 point performance in 2006 against the Toronto Raptors, I still wasn't much of a believer. I was like okay it was the Raptors. Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady were gone, and although Chris Bosh was there he was still growing into his own. Jalen Rose was there but he was at that time more known for his trash talking than his game. So you can imagine my thought process in that moment. A real defining moment for me in coming to recognize Kobe as the great player everyone else saw him to be was when the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the finals after being down 3-2.
So in his last NBA game ever "The Black Mamba" stayed true to legend and went out with a bang! 60 points in what seemed like a game fit for a Hollywood movie script. Celebrities and NBA greats filled the Staples Center all in support of Kobe Bryant. He was once a villain. He is definitely one of the most hated NBA greats, because of his ability to excel and dominate the game much like his idol and mentor Michael Jordan. But Kobe didn't have the same charisma as Jordan. He didn't care about please people or even his teammates for that matter. All Kobe cared about was winning, and he would put forth relentless effort to do so. Sometimes that even meant alienating teammates and coaches especially if he felt they weren't giving the same amount of effort as he was to being the best.
But all that seemed to change as his career came to the end, as losing became more common than wins. When the injuries began to mount up and Kobe spent more time in physical rehab instead of playing on the basketball court. There was a level of humbleness that fell on Kobe. There was the game where even Kobe had to admit "I suck right now...I'm the 200th best player in the league... I freaking suck!" That was in the first week of November and I believe it was in that moment that the decision was made that this would be his last season. And the announcement was made in the last week of the same month. The Kobe we all knew seemed no more. It is for this reason that the significance of Kobe scoring 60 points in a come from behind win in his final game as a Laker and NBA player is all the more why we all can't help but tip our hats to one of the greatest to ever play the game!
Yes I said it and I admit, Kobe will go down in history as one of the top 5 NBA players of all time! At worse he will be the second greatest guard to ever play in the NBA. Second to only his "Airness". Its fitting when you look at how the #24 comes after the #23. Well here are the final introduction and game highlights from "the Mamba's' last game!
Now I'm excited and ready for this years playoff's! Tomorrow I will give my thoughts and predictions on this years post season! But for now as Kobe said..."Mamba Out!"
Golden State Warriors 73-9: