Looking back at Kobe Bryant’s last game as an NBA player against the Utah Jazz
Kobe’s last game in 2016 wrapped up his incredible career in the NBA. Hear what some of the Utah Jazz players remember from his historic performance that night.
The night of April 13, 2016, is one that will surely be remembered by NBA fans for a long, long time, as Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant dropped 60 points in what was the final game of his career.
Those fans will almost certainly also remember that the Utah Jazz were Bryant’s and the Lakers’ opponent that night, and thus on the receiving end of the historic performance.
Three players — Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Derrick Favors — from that Jazz team are still on the roster, and earlier this week, Ingles reminisced on the night, which saw Bryant finish with 50 field goal attempts.
“I think going into the game we knew there was going to be a volume of shots that was going to be some type of record,” Ingles said. “It’s gotta be a record of something.”
Just before tipoff, Utah was eliminated from playoff contention (the Lakers had long been), but Ingles recalled that winning the game would still have meant something. That was especially because it would have dampened the incredible hoopla surrounding the night, which saw scenes such as media filling up the court pregame so the teams had limited space to warm up.
“I think spoiling his last game would’ve been really fun for us,” Ingles said. “We knew how hyped up and excited they were going to be as well. It was a special night. To be a part of it was something I’ll always remember.”
Bryant had 37 points entering the fourth quarter and the Lakers trailed by nine. They made a quick rally, but the Jazz answered and led by 10 at 94-84 with just over three minutes to play, and that’s when Bryant took over.
He wound up scoring the Lakers’ next 15 points, making all five of his shots from the field and all four of his free throw attempts. His free throw with 14.8 seconds left gave him 60 points and put the Lakers up 99-96.
Former Jazzman Gordon Hayward responded by quickly driving down the court to the hoop, but he missed a layup and Laker Julius Randle got the rebound. He passed it to Bryant, who saw second-year guard Jordan Clarkson running down the floor.
Bryant launched a pass, Clarkson threw down an exclamation dunk with 4.1 seconds to play and Bryant checked out of the game with a long celebration.
“I think early on we realized like in the first quarter he was going to get enough attempts up (that) if he made a few of his attempts, he was going to have a big night. I don’t think we envisioned what kind of happened,” Ingles said.
Clarkson, who of course is now with the Jazz, told The Athletic’s Bill Oram, “It was insane. It was definitely a Finals feel to it, something that we all brought intensity and wanted to get that one win for him. And definitely felt like it after. We were all pretty hype and felt like we won a championship.”
Clarkson’s Twitter profile photo is still one of him and Bryant hugging during a Lakers game, and former Jazzmen Hayward, Rodney Hood and Trey Lyles all had photos of Bryant as their profile pictures at one point. Ingles said he still keeps a photo of him guarding Bryant that final night, and everyone on the Jazz got a limited edition pair of Bryant’s shoes, which Bryant signed for Ingles.
“Really cool moment,” Ingles said. “Some pretty cool memories that I’ll obviously keep forever.”