Kobe Bryant played his final game of his NBA career on Wednesday night, and he went out in style thanks to yet achieving yet another NBA record. During his introductory ceremony, former Lakers great Magic Johnson mentioned that Kobe Bryant held 9 NBA records, but seemingly never considered that a tenth was within his grasp.
Somehow, the NBA record for field goal attempts in a game had eluded Bryant his entire career. On one fateful night, Michael Jordan attempted 49 shots in a loss to the Orlando Magic, making 27 of them and leading his team with 64 points. You had to know that it ate at Kobe that he didn’t own this record. The greatest volume shooter of all time didn’t have the most shots in an NBA game.
Kobe attempted 50 shots on Wednesday. Fifty, as in five-zero. He made 22 of them, proving yet again that he is willing to take any shot on the court regardless of whether his shot is falling or not. He could’ve chosen to go out and get as many assists as he could, he could’ve chosen to pass to the young players that the Lakers are trying to groom into stars in D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle. These are the players that should be leading the Lakers into the next generation, but instead, as they have all season, they were pushed to the side so that Bryant could bask in the limelight one more time. Winning the game was inconsequential; the Lakers were finishing off their worst regular season in franchise history. This game ultimately only meant that the Lakers would finish with a franchise worst 17 wins instead of 16.
How this man is considered one of the greatest of all time is beyond me. Bryant was certainly the greatest volume shooter of all time, but he should never be in the discussion as the greatest player. Kobe led the Lakers to more subpar performances than any “great” player before him. He was just as liable to lose a game as he was to win one, but nobody ever talks about that. He ran every other great player to don a Lakers uniform out of Los Angeles because he wanted to be the alpha. Shaquille O’Neal? Dwight Howard? Pau Gasol? Why didn’t any other great players ever want to come and play with the “Black Mamba”?
On a night where Stephen Curry scored 46 points on 24 shots in leading the Golden State Warriors to win number 73 in an 82 game season, Bryant was the one who received all of the attention. Curry became the first person to make 300 3 pointers in a season this year, and he also became the first person to make 400 3 pointers in a season this year. Curry is the one we should be celebrating, not a ball-hog whose me-first attitude is the reason the Lakers will be terrible for years to come. We should not be celebrating a man who was accused of rape in the early 2000’s and settled out of court with the young lady. We should be thankful that we no longer have to watch this self-obsessed volume shooting messiah take one more shot in the NBA.