Sports / Stars

Kobe Bryant bids farewell to 20-year NBA career with a 60-point night

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-04-14 16:57
Kobe Bryant bids farewell to 20-year NBA career with a 60-point night

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) heads off the court after being replaced by Los Angeles Lakers forward Ryan Kelly (not pictured) in the final seconds of the Lakers win over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, US, April 13, 2016. Bryant scored 60 points in the final game of his NBA career. [Photo/Agencies]

In his rookie season, Bryant showed his athletic ability to the world as he became the youngest Slam Dunk champion. More glories came to Bryant in the next few seasons. From 2000 to 2002, he and Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive championships.

The duo, along with veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton, formed the "Fantastic Four" before the 2003-04 season, while experiencing a disappointing season as the team lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Finals. After O'Neal left in off-season, Bryant became the team's corner-stone, handing a 81-point performance in a game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, second highest in a single game in NBA history.

In 2008, Bryant got a brilliant partner, Pau Gasol, while tasting another bitter loss in the Finals against the Boston Celtics, before he steered the team to two consecutive titles, and two Finals MVPs for himself, in 2009 and 2010.

On Dec 14, 2014, Bryant became the NBA's third all-time leading scorer, passing Micheal Jordan (32,292) in a 100-94 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

However, serious injuries began to bother Bryant late in his career, which sidelined him 123 games in two seasons from 2013 to 2015. For Lakers' young guys, team rebuilding is still a long way to go after Bryant's retirement.

In his final season, Lakers (17-65) sat bottom in the Western Conference and failed to advance into the playoffs. Bryant finally kept himself away from NBA spotlight with 33,643 points in total.

"No words can describe how I feel about you guys, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. What can I say? Mamba out."

Bryant was also the winner in international competitions, as he claimed two gold medals with the USA men's basketball team, named "Dream Team", in 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

What will Bryant do after retirement? The future of "Black Mamba" has been a curiosity to many fans. But one thing is sure, the love for basketball will accompany him for the rest of his life.

As what he wrote in the poem, "And I'll always love you for it".

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