Kobe Bryant has just one game remaining at the Staples Center before he calls time on his 20-year career.
The Black Mamba posted a game-high 17 points in the early hours of Thursday morning as the L.A. Lakers fell to their city rivals, the L.A. Clippers, for the second successive night.
With four games to go, the purple and gold have a three-game road trip that sees them face off against the New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, and Oklahoma City Thunder before returning home for their final outing against the Utah Jazz.
Article continues below
With his last night in the NBA approaching, much of the focus has been on how Kobe will go out. Will he hit a game-winning shot? Will he pile on 30+ points? To Bryant, his dream finish is out of the window, but he still wants a competitive game with the franchise from Salt Lake City.
When asked what his perfect send-off would be, the 37-year-old said, as per ESPN: "Win a championship.[But] that s--- ain't happening, so there you go. That's done. The dream's done. Dream's done. For me, it's coming out and playing in front of the fans and competing hard and playing against Utah, and them not taking it easy at all. They beat us by like 40 the last few times we played them. So I expect them to come and try to do the same thing.
"To me, that is the greatest form of competition. That's best last game you can have -- a very competitive one, a physical one. That's the way basketball should be. In terms of the end, I don't know, man. I really don't think about that that much; I just like the game itself."
It is unlikely the Jazz will be arriving in the City of Angels with anything but victory on their minds. Battling for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs, they will likely have a job to do at the Staples Center that will include leaving Bryant's farewell with the W.
Utah also has a chance to sweep the series 4-0 after winning both outings on their home court and the opener in Los Angeles back in January.
The previous meeting between the two franchises at the Vivint Smart Home Arena handed Bryant his worst defeat since being drafted as they fell by 48, it also tied for the Lakers' worst in franchise history.
But the shooting guard hasn't dwelled on any of the Lakers' 62 defeats this season, focusing more on the future. Heading into his final home game, Bryant says he is not sure how he will feel on the night.
"When the time comes, you never know," he said. "[I] might be sitting here with tears flowing out of my eyes. I doubt it, but it could happen. I don't know. We'll see."