Four years ago to this date, Kobe Bryant said goodbye to basketball in a dramatic and moving fashion.
In his final game on April 13, 2016, he scored 60 points against the Utah Jazz, giving fans one last enduring memory of his greatness.
To commemorate the moment, NBA TV will re-air that game Monday at 5 p.m. PT. After that game, there will be an episode of "Open Court" at 7 p.m. PT in which Ernie Johnson, Dwyane Wade, Chris Webber and Isiah Thomas discuss various issues while the NBA is paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion over his 20 seasons with the Lakers. He was an 18-time All-Star, two-time Finals MVP and one-time regular season MVP in 2008.
Throughout his career, he was criticized for not passing enough. But in his last game, his teammates encouraged him to take over.
Bryant had 38 points in the second half, 23 of which he scored fourth quarter on eight-for-16 shooting.
In the final 3 minutes and 20 seconds, Bryant helped the Lakers overcome a 94-84 hole by scoring 15-straight points for the Lakers, leading them to a 101-96 win.
It was an epic performance that capped off one of the greatest NBA careers of all time. It was his first 50-point game since February 2009.
“I can’t believe how fast 20 years went by,” Bryant said as he addressed the Staples Center crowd. “This is crazy. This is absolutely crazy. To be here standing at center court with you guys, my teammates behind me, appreciating the journey we’ve been on. We’ve been through our ups, and we’ve been through our downs, and I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout.”
After retiring in 2016, he poured himself into storytelling, winning an Oscar in 2018 for his short film "Dear Basketball" which was based on a poem he wrote.
Bryant died Jan. 26 along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash.
He was posthumously elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame on April 5. Bryant's wife, Vanessa, called that the pinnacle of his illustrious career.
"It's an incredible accomplishment and honor and we're extremely proud of him," Vanessa said April 5 in a television interview with ESPN. "Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate, but it's definitely the peak of his NBA career. And every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here, so we're incredibly proud of him. There's some solace in knowing that he was probably going to be a part of the 2020 Hall Of Fame class."