NBA

Rory McIlroy pays tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Rory McIlroy pays tribute to Kobe Bryant on the first day of the Masters

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Kobe Bryant's brilliant career in the NBA is approaching an end. The L.A. Lakers star has just four games remaining before he retires. 

His final game in the famous purple and gold will come on April 13 as the Utah Jazz arrive at the Staples Center. Ahead of the outing, sporting manufacturer Nike, who have been with the 37-year-old throughout the majority of his career, are celebrating the legend's career. 

They announced a weeklong celebration of the five-time NBA champion, culminating in 'Mamba Day' on the final night of his playing career. 

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With golf's biggest tournament kicking off yesterday, Northern Irish star and former number one Rory McIlroy became the first Nike athlete to pay tribute to Bryant. 

As McIlroy walked out to the tee for his opening shot at the 2016 Masters in Augusta, he was wearing a pair of white and gold cleats. As Nike explained in an earlier news release, the colour scheme is "a metaphoric nod to Bryant's golden career fading to black on April 13."

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The fading to black theme has been a constant throughout Bryant's retirement year as Nike coined the phrase to release a 13-pair collection of sneakers celebrating their time together.

The first white and gold edition were released on March 22, and the collection will culminate in the Kobe 11 "Black Mamba" edition on April 13. Each release between the two dates has seen the sneakers get progressively darker and the final edition will be black and gold, completing the theme. 

TOUGH TIMES

The L.A. Lakers' campaign has been one to forget and, had it not been for Bryant's farewell tour, there would be absolutely nothing to celebrate.

After losing back to back games to their city rivals, the L.A. Clippers, the Lakers set a franchise record for the most losses in a single season. 

It capped a three-year slide that has seen the organisation record consecutive record losses and become the first team since the Detriot Pistons from 1957-1960 to do so.

The purple and gold have mustered just 16 victories all season and find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference. Only the Philadelphia 76ers have a worse record across all 30 NBA teams. 

It has been just as tough for Bryant. Fighting against the limitations of his body, that is showing the effects of 20 years in the NBA, Kobe is producing some of the lowest average statistics in his career. 

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers

Having played 62 games, he is averaging 16.8 points per night, his lowest output in a season where he has started at least 30 games. He is also providing 2.8 assists, his lowest production since the turn of the century, and is shooting a career-low percentage from the field.

Topics:
Kobe Bryant
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
NBA

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