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Opinion

Reflecting on Kobe Bryant's last game

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25th May, 2021
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At some point, you figured it could never happen.

But like with anything in this life that seems permanent, it’s not. That includes your favourite sports stars hanging it up.

“Troy… Troy, are you watching basketball right now?!” Mr Knox towered over my laptop. He had got the jump on me but I didn’t care.

“Sorry sir, won’t happen again,” I muttered half heartedly. He went back to addressing the class as I put the tab right back up.

This was not just basketball. This was the last game Kobe Bryant was ever going to play. His whole farewell tour climaxed for one last game. I’d happily take the detention if I had to.

But something else was interfering with my plans: fourth period. Ms Neil’s dreaded maths class. I hated maths and I hated that class.

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We weren’t allowed laptops and she was on to us putting our phones in our pencil cases. I knew no superficial apology would swing and I was going to miss the last quarter. I needed to think quick.

I decided I was going to blow off the class and watch the rest of the game in the study room. This was no small sacrifice coming from an extremely strict Catholic boys school.

The fourth quarter started and for the first time all game, it had my undivided attention. What would occur next will be shown to my grandkids the moment they can crawl.

Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant during NBA finals between Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers

(Tolga Adanali/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Bryant went on a one-man wrecking show. Down by nine at the start of the quarter, Bryant would finish the game with 60, and outscore the entire Jazz team in the final period while hitting the game winner.

It’s hard to think back to that particular moment because I’ve re-watched it that many times. But every time I do, I’m covered in goosebumps, mesmorised by the fairytale ending.

I could have been screaming like a madman or frozen at the screen. I don’t recall. However, at that moment, watching his greatness unfold, I forgot where I was. I forgot the class I was blowing off. I forgot a lot of things that year, but never that game. Never that last quarter.

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When it was all said and done, I was glad he went out on his own terms, shooting the most shots ever by a player in NBA history and scoring the most for the season. It was authentically Bryant.

I remember watching Bryant’s first shot of the pre-season hit the side of the backboard, foreshadowing a season of struggle. I remember the last three seasons of Bryant hopping around on one leg while getting career-low numbers.

But memory is a tricky thing. Some memories are so powerful and iconic that it not only ingrains its spot in your brain for life, it changes the way you remember other things. I’m never going to forget the bad times but watching that last game changed the way I feel about them.

Mamba out.

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