Kobe Bryant signs off from the NBA
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant signed off his glorious 20-year old career in style. Bryant scored 60 points in his final outing, as the Los Angeles Lakers produced a stunning comeback to beat the Utah Jazz. A sell-out crowd of 19,060 fans had packed into the Staples Center to watch the five-time NBA champion lace up for the 1,566th and last time.
Born on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Kobe Bean Bryant is the son of former NBA player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant. Kobe spent his early years in Italy and joined the National Basketball Association (NBA) directly from high school, in 1996. Initially selected by Charlotte Hornets with 13th overall pick of the 1996 NBA draft, Kobe was subsequently traded to LA Lakers, where he remained.
In his second season with the Lakers, Bryant was voted a starter for the 1998 All-Star Game, becoming at 19, the youngest All-Star in NBA history. He teamed up with superstar center Shaquille O'Neal to win three consecutive NBA championships- 2000,2001,2002; and was voted first-team all-NBA from 2002-04. Bryant's 81-points against Toronto Raptors in January 2006, is the second-highest single-game mark in NBA history
Kobe Bryant is nicknamed "The Black Mamba," a name he gave himself, after watching Tarantino's "Kill Bill," in which the snake, known for its agility and aggressiveness, was used as code name for a deadly assassin. Bryant explained, 'that's the perfect description of how he wanted his game to be.'
In July 2003, Kobe Bryant was charged with one count of sexual assault on a 19-year-old female hotel worker in Colorado. Bryant admitted to being guilty of adultery, but claimed innocent of the rape charge. The accusation tarnished his reputation terribly. The case was dismissed in 2004 and he settled the civil lawsuit filed by the hotel worker against him out of court.
In 2008, Bryant was named Most Valuable Player and carried his team to NBA Finals, where they lost to the Boston Celtics. In the 2009 NBA Finals, the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic to win the championship. The following year, Lakers won their second straight title by defeating the Celtics. Bryant played on both 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic teams, winning consecutive gold medals.
After suffering a torn Achilles tendon in April 2013, Bryant worked hard to return to the court before fracturing his knee just six games into the 2013-14 season. His 2014-15 season ended due to injury for the third straight year when he sustained a torn rotator cuff in January 2015.
Kobe Bryant announced on The Players' Tribune website that he will retire after the 2015-16 season, writing that "this season is all I have left to give." The basketball superstar penned a poem, where he wrote that the sport "gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream/And I'll always love you for it." He also told media that he made the decision "a while" ago.
Kobe Bryant addressed the crowd after his farewell game at Staples center and thanked the fans for their support. Bryant said "I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout." "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 ended.