Think back: Do you remember everyone on the floor for the last game Kobe Bryant played in for the Los Angeles Lakers? Or do you mostly just recall the fact that he dropped 60 points in the final game of his NBA career?
I have to admit, other than Julius Randle’s gleefully illegal screens to help Bryant make one more magical memory, I sort of forgot that Tarik Black was on the floor for that contest, or really that anyone else even played in it aside from Bryant. You mean he didn’t go one-on-five most of the game?
Black definitely hasn’t forgotten, though, and for “Mamba Day” (8/24), I thought it would be fun to share this anecdote about how much of an impact Black says that game still has on him today.
On the “Forgotten Lakers” podcast, Black — who now plays for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in Israel — revealed that he still uses clips of the last game he played with Bryant to motivate himself when he needs an extra boost.
”At this point right now in my career, it’s the most invigorating game I’ve ever been a part of. And I pray that it isn’t the pinnacle game, I pray there is a lot more basketball for Tarik Black to play, but I can only answer you from where I am today.
“That game was so electrifying and exciting, and I even watch the highlights of it now. Once in a while I need a pick-me-up or something of that nature, I’ll watch the highlights or I’ll watch the game on YouTube... My eyes get watery sometimes because it’s just such an amazing game of basketball, you know what I mean?”
Black says one of his teammates in Israel also recently caught the highlights, and was giving him a hard time for how he was talking to Kobe, and how he kept calling him “OG” in one of the clips, which Black says is just what all the young guys on the Lakers called Bryant (which is pretty great in its own right):
”We all called him OG, he’s always the OG. Just in that moment, seeing him go down that way, seeing him click back into who he is... Establishing who he is, not being held back by his age at the time, his body at the time, and just leaving it all out there.
“Seeing how his mind just clicked to ‘this is my last game, tired is not going to stop me, nor is my defender, nothing is going to stop me from doing what I do.’ That mentality, that perspective, and watching it play out, it’s amazing.”
The mentality Black references is a big part of what made Bryant resonate with so many fans around the world, and evidently it even positively impacted some of his teammates as well. On a day that commemorates Bryant’s two jersey numbers every August, this is a fun story to revisit, and worth a listen for all Lakers fans.
And if you want to pump yourself up the same way Tarik Black does, here you go: