How Kobe Bryant Proved Shaq Wrong In His Last NBA Game
It has been a difficult last few months since the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Giana back in late January. However, it has also given a chance to reflect on Bryant‘s illustrious NBA career that has already earned him a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction. There were many memorable moments throughout his time in the league, which April 13 is another significant date in his career as it marked the last game four years ago on Monday. It was a remarkable close out to one of the most iconic players in NBA history’s time in the league, which Bryant was able to prove former teammates Shaquille O’Neal wrong one last time.
Shaq’s challenge to Kobe Bryant
It has been well-known throughout the years that O’Neal and Bryant didn’t exactly have the best of relationships on and off the court.
They had their intense moments together with the Los Angeles Lakers while also experiencing a great deal of success behind three NBA titles. In the weeks ahead of Bryant’s last game, O’Neal issued a challenge for his former teammate by asking him to post 50 points. (H/T Inquirer.Net)
“Kobe, they’re doing a big celebration for you the last game,” O’Neal told Bryant at Inside the NBA after the retiring guard scored 20 in the Lakers’ 107-100 win over the Grizzlies. “A lot of us are going to be there. Can you promise me one thing?”
“I need 50 that night. Can you do it? Your last game, your last home game at the Staples, can you give us 50?”
O’Neal’s decision to go public with that challenge was likely to push Bryant to put on a show in his final game. Before that contest, the 18-time All-Star had 25 performances with at least 50 points with 15 of those such outings coming at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant drops 60 points in his final game
The talk around Bryant heading in the days leading to his final game was how he was going to approach the contest.
When the game began against the Utah Jazz, it became quite apparent that the team was going to feed him the ball as much as possible. Bryant got off to a rough start shooting as he missed his first five shots that led to 7-of-20 shooting in the first half for 22 points.
Bryant played the entire second half with him pushing his total up to 37 points through the first three quarters. He settled in the final period that saw him net 23 points to secure a 60-point outing in his last game in the comeback win. That included Bryant notching 13 straight points that were capped by a go-ahead jumper with 31 seconds left and a pair of free throws to help ice the game.
His tantalizing performance in his final game saw him break numerous records such as becoming the oldest player to score 60 points in a game on a career-high 50 field goal attempts, and most points for any player in their final appearance.
Shaq responds to Kobe Bryant’s performance
Bryant never voiced that he was motivated by O’Neal to put up a huge offensive showing in his final game, but the way things transpired led to him to beat his former teammate challenge.
It was a final game that lived up to the billing with Bryant going out the only way in the way that many envisioned with him shooting. That didn’t take long for O’Neal’s reaction to the performance to go public as ESPN’s Rachel Nichols got his immediate comments after the game.
Nonetheless, Bryant’s final performance will be remembered as one of the greatest single-game outings in NBA history and further boost his everlasting legacy.