The final game of Kobe Bryant’s career was so perfect that Hollywood would have struggled to write it better, or at least that’s the joke just about every writer and/or person around the team made in the aftermath.
But to even joke about anyone but Bryant writing his ending is naive. Bryant was a notorious control freak, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Julius Randle felt like there was no part of his former teammate that was leaving the outcome of his last game to mere chance.
“It was like he was willing to go out there and he was willing to die before he was gonna not go balls out every possession,” Randle said during an appearance on “The Vertical Podcast with Woj. “He didn't care. And that was the craziest to me. He was gassed, absolutely fatigued.
“I can only imagine, five or eight years ago what he was doing, like when he never got tired,” Randle continued. “It was crazy. It was amazing to see because he literally didn't care, he wanted to rip whoever's heart out that was guarding him or that he was guarding. He wanted to rip their heart out. He didn't care.”
Honestly, with how cutthroat Bryant was throughout his career, “literally tear Gordon Hayward’s heart out of his chest in a ritualistic blood sacrifice at mid-court” was probably a prop bet you could’ve gotten decent odds on in Las Vegas heading into Bryant’s career finale. The odds for “dying to become one with basketball at the buzzer” probably weren’t much worse.
Bryant’s final game won’t fade from the memory of Lakers fans anytime soon, and judging by how positively giddy his former teammates get when talking about it, it’s safe to say they won’t be forgetting in the near future either.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.