Kobe Bryant went out firing in his final NBA game, giving the Los Angeles Lakers one more dazzling display of offence to close out his 20-year career.
Scoring 60 points – off 50 shots – Bryant brought his playing career tpo an end on Wednesday night with the Lakers beating the Utah Jazz 101-96.
Bryant hugged former teammate Shaquille O’Neal in the final seconds and scored 23 points in the final quarter.
“Man, I can’t believe how fast 20 years went by,” he said, with a towel draped over his shoulders.
“It’s crazy, absolutely crazy to be standing here on the same court with you guys, with my teammates behind me.
“I appreciate the journey we have been on. There have been a few ups and downs but the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout. All I can do here is thank you guys for all the years of support, all the years of inspiration. This has been unbelievable. I can’t believe it has come to an end.”
It was a storybook finish, the sixth 60-point game of his career. It also was the most shots taken by anyone in an NBA game in the past 30 seasons.
He retires as the NBA’s third-highest all-time scorer and won five championships.
Jordan Clarkson chipped in 12 points for the Lakers and was the only Los Angeles player to reach double figures other than Bryant.
Trey Lyles had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Jazz, who lost their bid for a post-season berth before tip-off when the Houston Rockets claimed a win over the Sacramento Kings for the final seed in the Western Conference.
Elsewhere, the Golden State Warriors earned an NBA record-setting 73rd regular season victory with a 125-104 blowout win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The victory came in the final game of the 82-game regular season and snapped the previous record of 72 wins set by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls during the 1995-96 season.
To reach the once unthinkable 73-win plateau, the Warriors made a record 24-0 start to the campaign, won their first 36 home games, became the first team not to lose consecutive games and ended the season with a record 34 road wins.
In the record-setting victory, it was reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry who once again powered Golden State by scoring a game-high 46 points, including 10 three-pointers.
Boston 98-88 Miami
Toronto 103-96 Brooklyn
Charlotte 117-103 Orlando
Detroit 112 -110 Cleveland
Washington 109-98 Atlanta
Chicago 115-105 Philadelphia
San Antonio 96-91 Dallas
Houston 116-81 Sacramento
Indiana 97-92 Milwaukee
Minnesota 144-109 New Orleans
Golden State 125-104 Memphis
Lakers 101-96 Utah
Phoenix 114-105 LA Clippers
Portland 107-99 Denver