As his farewell tour of the NBA began, Kobe Bryant took the court in his hometown of Philadelphia to a warm reception from the crowd.
Bryant, 37, announced on Sunday that he would retire at the end of the season. Born in Philadelphia, he received special recognition from the Sixers, with the PA announcer noting the high school state championship he won at Lower Merion High School in 1996. His high school coach, Gregg Dowell, and NBA legend Julius Erving met Bryant at center court, where he was presented with a Lower Merion No. 24 jersey and recognized by fans prior to tipoff.
Bryant’s father, Joe, played for the 76ers from 1975–79. Bryant has struggled on-court this season, the 20th of his career, spent entirely with the Lakers after the team acquired him in a draft-day trade in 1996. He holds career averages of 25.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
The Sixers honored Bryant with a special video that was aired on the team’s game broadcast, as well.
And, as perhaps was to be expected, Bryant came out firing, bagging three three-pointers in the first five minutes of the game for Los Angeles. He started 3-of-7 on three-pointers and had 13 points on 10 shots in the first eight minutes. Bryant finished with 20 points on 7-of-26 shooting in a 103–91 Philadelphia victory.
The Sixers snapped an NBA-record 28-game losing streak and avoided a record 0–19 start to this season. L.A. fell to 2–15.