The whole thing sounded like an intro to a fictional documentary.
"What if I told you a 37-year old Kobe Bryant scored 60 points to win his final NBA game?"
It's the stuff of fantasy, a storybook ending that would never happen in real life.
Well, what if I told you it did.
With a raucous crowd that came off more like a cult of religious zealots clamoring over the rise of a deity than basketball fans appreciating a soon to be retired player on a lottery team, Kobe Bean Bryant wrote the best possible ending to his career given the circumstances.
Kobe has spoken openly about wanting to tell stories in his second life after basketball, and he got a head start on Wednesday night by writing his own fairytale ending, one so perfect that it would be sent back for rewrites for being too sappy if it was turned in to a studio executive.
Kobe fought through and published it anyway, despite being visibly winded towards the end of his own 13-0 run to put the Jazz away and end his career with a win. The unforgettable season finale had most of social media's rapt attention despite the Golden State Warriors quest for the all-time regular season wins record. The excitement even led Bryant's teammate Nick Young to wonder afterward why ESPN chose to bump the game down to ESPN 2 in favor of the Warriors pursuit of history:
Side Note dumb ass @espn y'all really put the on ESPN 2— Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) April 14, 2016
Always a problem solver, Young did his part to show people what they were missing from the floor on Instagram:
He also went and got a score sheet of the game signed:
Nick Young got Kobe to sign tonight's score sheet https://t.co/iRc91zGNWJ pic.twitter.com/J4M8zrk9uu— Lindsey Adler (@Lahlahlindsey) April 14, 2016
With good reason too, because as Jordan Clarkson pointed out, those who did watch or attend certainly got a show:
Whoever paid those crazy ass prices for those tickets y'all got y'all money's worth tonight— Jordan Clarkson (@JClark5on) April 14, 2016
Lou Williams and Anthony Brown also had front row seats to the performance, and were speechless except for superlatives:
Mamba Out. 60 piece. Wow— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) April 14, 2016
April 14, 2016
Bryant's teammates weren't the only NBA players checking out the game:
First let me say congrats to Kobe on an unbelievable career. 20 years! You set he bar on the court for our ... pic.twitter.com/NLAtvmeo4s— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) April 14, 2016
Suns watching Kobe be Kobe. pic.twitter.com/TMpknItNEZ— #WeArePHX (@Suns) April 14, 2016
Mother Effin amazed!!!!!! Left the game on his terms and his way! Legend engraved in history forever!!— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) April 14, 2016
Kobe got 40 hope he get 50 !! #KobesLastGame— Hassan Whiteside (@youngwhiteside) April 14, 2016
Kobe's youngest daughter Gianna mimicked the reaction to here dad's performance that most Lakers fan had at home from her courtside seats:
@stackmack This one? pic.twitter.com/WD2RT12ksX— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 14, 2016
Bryant played so well he even got a smile out of Kanye West:
When you finally understand what Kobe meant in that "You're Welcome" commercial pic.twitter.com/OpMwA9ih8k— ✡ (@Yung_Yamaka) April 14, 2016
For those that don't get the reference:
Kobe's former teammate Shaquille was also taken aback by his effort:
Just spoke to Shaq - he said "I challenged him to get 50 and the mother****er got 60"— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 14, 2016
The whole thing just made Snoop Dogg want to dance:
Perhaps the greatest indicator of how impressive Bryant's performance was that drew praise from Jalen Rose, perhaps best know among Lakers fans for blocking people on Twitter for referencing how he couldn't block, stop, or even impede Kobe from scoring 81 points on him when he was with the Toronto Raptors:
60 in his final game?! 81(on me)in his prime. Incredible. Insane discipline! Congratulations @kobebryant.— Jalen Rose (@JalenRose) April 14, 2016
After the game, Kobe received the type of shower normally reserved for winning championships, but in this case it felt right to make an exception for the five-time NBA champion:
Legendary #ThankYouKobe pic.twitter.com/qnxbUCnrTx— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 14, 2016
The night was amazing, the best finale Bryant and his legion of fans could have asked for given the circumstances. But the bittersweet part of it is that he's now gone from our basketball lives, off to other pursuits. Bryant's last performance was the ultimate love letter to his fans, and he only needed two words to sign the farewell.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.