It was one year ago today that Kobe Bryant played his last NBA game. Around the league, it was #MambaDay – a celebration of a player whose 20 year career influenced the league like few have. Kobe did not disappoint in his farewell performance, either. Scoring an astounding 60 points on an equally astounding 50 shots, it was more than a night to remember – it was a night which added to a mystique and legend few players in the history of the league possess.
After the game, I wrote the following:
Kobe provided us a night for the ages; he gave us a moment to seal away as ours forever. He turned a night which was supposed to be a sad one filled with teary-eyed goodbyes into a celebration filled with smiles and cheers and did I really just see that? reactions.
In other words, he was Kobe Bryant again.
I will remember this game for the rest of my life. It wasn’t a championship sealing win. There will be no parade down Figueroa. But the feeling of watching a player who has meant so much — to me as a person, to an organization, to a city, to so many fans around the world — was more than just a regular game.
It was one last glimpse into what made 20 years of watching him play such an event and reflective of how he, more often than not, seemed to understand how to turn those events into unforgettable memories. Kobe Bean Bryant. There will never be another quite like him. Goodbye, one last time.
Re-reading those words now, a year later, I still have trouble grasping it actually happened. But now that we are a year removed, it allows us to look back and remember all that went into that night and all the special moments it produced for fans and those in attendance. With that, here are a few of the best posts, videos, and reflections floating around the internet today. Hope you enjoy a trip back in time as we remember #MambaDay.
First, a great read from ESPN’s Baxter Holmes who got to talk with Kobe about that day and what he was feeling throughout. A brief sampling:
“After the first couple minutes, I was like, ‘Oh, s—,'” Bryant says. “It became apparent really, really quickly that this night was not going to go down with me just playing OK. It was either going to have to be an epic one or the worst one ever, because they were just going to keep throwing me the damn ball and the crowd wanted me to shoot every time — almost to the point where I felt bad for my teammates, because if they took a shot, the crowd was ready to boo. So it was like, ‘Oh, s—. I gotta go.'”
Bryant laughs now at the irony of that sentiment, noting how funny it was that he went through 20 seasons of everyone screaming “Pass the ball!” before a night when they screamed “Don’t pass it!” But his finale did not begin well. He opened the game by missing his first five shots.
What unfolded from there would mark not just one of the most memorable games in Bryant’s career, but in all of sports.
There’s also this well done piece from Bleacher Report’s Dave Schilling, who spoke to people who were in attendance that night about the atmosphere and what it was like to witness the game from their perspective.
One of my favorite things on the internet is the “things you missed” video series Jade Hoye of TrueHoop TV does for big shots/moments from around the league. Well, he went into the archives this morning and did a “13 things you missed” from Kobe’s finale:
Kobe’s Finale – 13 Things You Missed pic.twitter.com/tx5FlWSMxz
— TrueHoop TV (@TrueHoopTV) April 13, 2017
And, finally, a video of that night’s highlights: