Mamba Out
April 13, 2020

The only thing crazier than Kobe Bryant scoring 60 in his final NBA game is this stat

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

Harry How

Time has no meaning anymore. In the immortal words of Rust Cohle, it has become a flat circle—a veritable Groundhog's Day, minus Bill Murray to entertain us. If you have been marking the days down on an old piece of driftwood while talking to your volleyball named Wilson, however, then you are probably at least tangentially aware that it's April 13th, 2020, an unremarkable date, but for one fact: It is the anniversary of Kobe Bryant's final NBA game, arguably the single greatest send-off in professional sports history.

Back in 2016, the Lakers were 16-65 heading into final game of the season against the Utah Jazz. They were dead last in the Western Conference with nowhere to go and nothing to play for. ESPN had bumped Kobe's final game to air the Warrior's quest for 73 instead. In the build-up to his farewell, Shaq asked his former teammate if he could give them 50. "No!" Kobe laughed, "absolutely not." And in a way he was right.

For the past several seasons, it's been easy enough for NBA fans to gloss over this game. It meant nothing. Kobe shot less than 50% from the floor. Mike Tirico would even go as far as to allege that Gordon Hayward intentionally gifted him his 59th and 60th points of the night. But now, in the wake of Bryant's death and with no new basketball to distract us, #MambaDay is enjoying a bit of a retcon. Is it one of the most vital performances in basketball history? Maybe not. Is it one of the most impossible? Absolutely yes. Just let this stat do the talking:

Apples and oranges? In a lot of cases, yes. Sure, Kobe was younger than a lot of these guys, but he had just as much wear on the tires, having come straight out of high school back when that was still a viable career path in the late 90s. It's tough to compare, but the next closest total belongs to Dwayne Wade, who scored 35 POINTS LESS during his swan song. Shaq, the guy who Kobe couldn't do it without, came up 58 shy.

It probably won't change how the splintered and dwindling factions of Kobe haters feel, but as a far as points of reference are concerned, it's telling. As far as mic drops go, it's one for the ages. Mamba out.