The 2015-16 season was the worst season in Lakers history, and that’s not hyperbole. Under Byron Scott, the Lakers won a franchise-low 17 games — their lowest win-total since the 1957-58 season. But there was still one reason to tune into every game, and that was Kobe Bryant.
Not only was Bryant the healthiest he’d been in two years that season, but on Nov. 29, 2015, Bryant announced that he was going to hang up his sneakers for good at the end of the season in a poem published on The Players’ Tribune titled “Dear Basketball.” A few years later, that poem was adapted into an animated short, which Bryant won an Oscar for in 2018, because of course he did.
Statistically speaking, that season was one of the worst of Bryant’s career (if not the worst), but fans still tuned in because they knew the end was coming. On April 13, 2015, Bryant — the man that spent 20 years in Los Angeles and won five championships during that time — would play his final game in the purple and gold armor, and his last NBA game ever.
It was a day Lakers fans and basketball fans alike were dreading, but Bryant made sure that the final chapter of his career would have a storybook ending.
One last time, Bryant willed the Lakers to a win to the tune of 60 points, which made him the oldest player (37) to ever score 60 points in a game. The star-studded crowd at Staples Center had the arena rocking like it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals when in reality, it was a meaningless game against a playoff-bound Utah Jazz. Even Bryant’s teammates — many of whom grew up watching Bryant — couldn’t contain their excitement on the sidelines.
For just one more night, Bryant was the Black Mamba again, and it was majestic.
In the wake of Bryant’s passing on Sunday, ESPN announced that they will re-air Bryant’s swan song on Monday at 6 p.m. PST.
So grab some friends, dust off your old Kobe jersey that doesn’t fit like it used to and re-live the end to one of the most illustrious careers in basketball.
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