As everybody is more than aware by now, Kobe Bryant will be bringing his 20-year NBA career to an end at Staples Center tonight. The L.A. Lakers will take on the Utah Jazz in what will be an unforgettable evening in Downtown Los Angeles to celebrate one of the greatest players to ever set foot on a basketball court.
Bryant has created a legacy that has inspired so many people, not just in the City of Angels, but around the world.
The Black Mamba's numbers and accolades speak for themselves; five-time NBA champion, MVP, 18-time All-Star, two-time finals MVP, 11-time All-NBA First Team and the list can go on and on.
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He will leave an imprint on the league that will be remembered forever and he will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame.
The tributes and testimonials have been flooding in for the 37-year-old all season and the way the entire league has embraced a true great of the game has been a joy to behold.
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Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum, who has played against Bryant on numerous occasions during his eight years in the league, believes his retirement is a special moment in basketball and players of his calibre shouldn't be taken for granted.
"Everyone is talking about it here with only one game remaining in his career. He will leave an indelible mark on the league and the history of the NBA," Batum said.
"He is one of the best players to ever play and has marked a whole generation of players. He has been at the top of his game for 20 years and it will be very strange to think that we will never see him again grace a court. I think we all need to cherish these final moments because players like him do not come along every 10 years."
Kobe is the only player to have a 20-year career with one franchise and he fulfilled a dream to not only play in the NBA but to win championships and put his name among the elite and being able to inspire his peers to chase their dreams has been almost as satisfying for him as his personal achievements.
“The coolest thing is the messages I receive from the players,” said of his farewell tour this season, via NBCSports. “They say thank you for the inspiration, thank you for the lessons, for the mentality. Those things honestly mean the most from me, that respect from the peers, there’s nothing in the world that beats that.”
The prices to see the Lakers legend in action for the final time have cost somewhere between $700 (£491) and $27,500 (£19,315), but to every Kobe Bryant fan in the arena tonight, the moment will truly be priceless.
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