As the NBA regular season enters its final week, so too does the career of one of the greatest players in basketball, Kobe Bryant. Bryant announced on Nov. 29, 2015, to the basketball world that this will be his last season. After the news broke out throughout the league, the Kobe Bryant farewell tour began, and it has been nothing but standing ovations and applause from fans and NBA players. The NBA has not seen anything like this since Michael Jordan waved goodbye back in 2003. Cities like Boston, Sacramento and Portland, where Kobe and the Lakers left many fans heartbroken couldn’t hold back the Kobe chants during his final game on their home floor.
Throughout the season Bryant has been autographing his sneakers and handing them off not only to fans but to NBA players as well. This is just another plus in the Bryant farewell tour. NBA players such as LeBron James, Paul George, Chris Paul, Draymond Green, Tony Allen and Dwyane Wade have all received an autographed pair along with a side note embedded on the sneaker. Even teammate Nick Young wants in on the action, “I have a couple shoes. I don’t want to bug him every day. After our games, there’s old shoes I’ve had and got them signed. I’m gonna wait until the last couple games to really take it all, surprise him. You can’t take it to the last game. You gotta surprise him like a week or two before. Everybody wants the last jersey.”
Kobe will suit up for the final two times this week as the Lakers visit the Thunder on Monday at Oklahoma, and they close out the season at home Wednesday against the Jazz. Kobe averages 27.0 points per game against the Thunder, so we’ll see if Durant and Westbrook can contain the Mamba. In his third last game on Sunday, Bryant found his vintage Mamba form as he dropped 35 points against the Rockets, when Kobe and company visited Houston. Although Laker fans have nothing to look forward to after Wednesday’s game, the atmosphere in the Staples Center will revolve around Kobe’s final game at home and that of his career. Many believe the fans will react the same way during Michael Jordan’s last game at the United Center in Chicago during his final year with the Wizards.
Fans will cherish the man who brought the city of Los Angeles its last five championships. From winning three consecutive championships from 2000-2002 alongside Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal, to teaming up with Pau Gasol and raising the two final banners at the Staples Center in 2009 and 2010. Without a doubt we’ll see Bryant’s jersey retired in the Staples Center alongside the seven Laker legends: Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neil, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Gail Goodrich.