NBA

Vladimir Radmanovic & Kobe Bryant.

Kobe Bryant was both tough and comforting to play with says former teammate Radmanovic

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In an incredible night of NBA basketball, Kobe Bryant brought a memorable 20-year career to an end in the only way he knows best.

With tickets for his final game costing as much as $27,500 and not an empty seat in the Staples Center, the Black Mamba was well worth the price of admission as he dropped 60 points in front of an ecstatic Lakers crowd to lead the purple and gold to a 101-96 win against the Utah Jazz.   

He insisted before the game that his only aim was to be healthy enough to take to the court against Utah to give the team's fans the show they wanted and he duly delivered.

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This is the worst L.A. Lakers team in franchise history and despite being 15 points down, Bryant, as he has done on countless occasions throughout his illustrious career, willed his team to victory to ensure he went out on a high. 

It was a Hollywood ending and a fitting way to say goodbye to one of the greatest players to ever grace the hardwood. 

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Along his 20-year journey, Kobe has had many teammates and though not all of them were able to witness his tremendous farewell game at the arena, you can bet a fair number of them were tuned in somewhere. 

One former teammate who was certainly watching Bryant's last game was Serbian Vladimir Radmanovic. The 12-year NBA veteran spent three years with the Lakers and reached the NBA finals with Bryant in 2008 and is in no doubt as to what legacy the 37-year-old will leave behind. 

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 1

Speaking to GiveMeSport, Radmanovic said: "Playing for 20 years, especially playing for the same team, he was as recognisable as the Lakers. When you think of the Lakers the first thing that pops up in your mind is Kobe. 

"There were so many players that played for that team obviously Magic, Kareem and all those great players before him, but I think Kobe left something special over there and he’s going to be remembered as one of the greatest Lakers ever."  

Among his peers, Kobe is admired for one thing above all else, his competitiveness. With a winning mentality and a killer instinct on the court, he wasn't one to settle for second best.

Radmanovic recalls how he displayed that to every Lakers player, which didn't make him the easiest teammate to have but he wouldn't have had it any other way.

"He was a tough teammate, somebody who demanded a lot from everybody that was around him but at the same time we all enjoyed being with him and having him on our team because there was something comforting in the fact that you played alongside Kobe," he said.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

"Whenever things went wrong you knew there was going to be somebody who could make things happen in the way you want so, even though he wasn’t the friendliest person on the team, I believe everybody who played for the Lakers and had a chance to play with him appreciated him as a player as much as I did."

This is what allowed Kobe to win five championship rings and almost every personal honour available in the game. He will leave a huge mark on the NBA and a hole in the L.A. Lakers that may never be filled.

Topics:
Roy Hibbert
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
NBA
Kobe Bryant

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