by Julian Spivey
Kobe Bryant embarrassed himself in his final game on Wednesday (April 13) and he didn’t even realize it.
I know, I know. This is going to seem like nothing more than a “hater column” and those of you who believe so probably won’t read any further.
But, while most of you saw a storybook Hollywood ending to Kobe Bryant’s 20-year NBA career on Wednesday night when he scored 60 points against the Utah Jazz on 22-for-50 (44 percent) shooting, I saw something that pretty much summed up Bryant’s career for me.
Bryant’s 60-point game last night was the most points ever scored by a player in his final NBA game and was actually the most points scored by any player in the league this season, besting Anthony Davis’ 59-point game by a single point. At 37 years old, Bryant is also the oldest player in league history to ever score 60 points.
While Bryant’s final game is certainly going to remain in the record books, possibly forever, one can’t help but argue how embarrassing it is for him to shoot the ball 50 times to have to do it. If he hadn’t led the Lakers back last second to victory over the Jazz, it would’ve been even more embarrassing.
I understand it was the last game of this legend’s career and fans of his in attendance and watching on television got exactly what they wanted, but it just summed up the entire career, in my opinion, of a guy known as the biggest “ball hog” in NBA history. Bryant’s 50 shots on the evening was 14 more than the next highest number of shots by any player in the league this season and it took Russell Westbrook double overtime just to amass 36 shots. Even more embarrassing for Bryant is his 50 shots in his final game was actually four more field goal attempts than the 46 he took in his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. Also embarrassing is the fact that Bryant shot 6-for-21 from beyond the arc in his final game. We all know that Stephen Curry (who hit 10 threes on 19 attempts on Wednesday) could’ve bested that number blindfolded. By the way, it only took Curry 24 shots (making 15 of them) on Wednesday night to score 46 in the Warriors record-setting 73rd win of the season against the Memphis Grizzlies. Curry didn’t even play a second in the fourth quarter either.
Watching Curry and the fantastic team oriented ball of the Warriors on Wednesday, a game more people should’ve watched as it was history in the making (legends honestly retire at a frequent rate – we just saw Peyton Manning and Jeff Gordon do it), just proves to me more why Bryant’s legend and style of basketball might be worse for the game than a boost for it.
Bryant was really the first “me, me, me” superstar in NBA history that wanted to win so badly and be “the guy” that he sometimes harmed his team by taking too many shots and believing he was the only guy to take “the shot.” It was something that really started to affect his team late in his career and has led to something like the team’s 17-65 record in his farewell season because his “me, me, me” attitude, along with the frequent viewpoint that he was a bad teammate, really kept other superstars from wanting to play for maybe the most storied franchise in NBA history. Bryant’s selfish style of play really harmed the NBA for a while as superstars tried to emulate him by doing the same thing and today still somewhat affects the league in a negative fashion *cough* James Harden and Carmelo Anthony *cough*.
NBA fans are seeing the right way to play the game with the dominance of the Golden State Warriors and the continued excellence of the San Antonio Spurs and yet it’s still Kobe Bryant we’re talking about on a night where the Warriors did something that likely will never be bested.
Am I a hater? Maybe. But, I feel that’s actually sad for the game of basketball.
Congratulations to Kobe Bryant on going out the only way he knew how – shooting the ball, a lot. But, when you take 50 shots, 60 points isn’t really as impressive as everyone is making it out to be – even when you’re the old guy on the block. That’s why I think he embarrassed himself in his farewell.