NBA

Gordon Hayward and Kobe Bryant.

Gordon Hayward explains his experience of Kobe Bryant's final game for the L.A. Lakers

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Kobe Bryant's final NBA game was a night nobody will forget. After a tough season for the five-time champion and his L.A. Lakers teammates, he went out in a blaze of glory as he dropped 60 points at the Staples Center.

But spare a thought for the Utah Jazz, not only had their chances of reaching the playoffs vanished moments before tipoff, they were on the receiving end of a Black Mamba special as he helped the Lakers to only their 17th win of the campaign. 

The Jazz appeared to be in control of proceedings throughout the evening in the City of Angels before Bryant went off in an incredibly surreal performance as he attempted 50 shots from the field. 

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Gordon Hayward, who played 32 minutes of Kobe's farewell - scoring 17 points - has written on his personal blog about the experience of playing in such an emotional game and compared it to being in a video game.

He said: "When the game started, the atmosphere was different from anything I’ve ever experienced. Everyone in the arena was excited whenever he touched the ball. And every time Kobe got it, they wanted him to shoot it, and they were booing us for even trying to defend him.

"We were trying to win, and for a while there we were. But at the end of the game, in the closing minutes, everything that transpired kind of shocked us, to be honest. We were up double digits for most of the second half, and we led by 10 with about three minutes to go. So when Kobe started hitting shots and the game started to get close, a lot of us were in shock.

"It was like being a part of a showcase, or being in a video game. There wasn’t really much normality about it. A guy scored 60 points and took 50 shots. There was something different as far as his aggressiveness.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

"I think every time he touched it, you knew he was going to try to shoot it, or try to score, or try to get something going. He’s always an aggressive player, but that night, he was ultra-aggressive and tried to score on every single possession."

It was a performance for the ages from Bryant and one many people believed were beyond the 37-year-old. However, he rolled back the years to go out in a way befitting someone who had provided so much entertainment in the past two decades.

It will be strange to see the Lakers line up without their franchise star next season, but having gone out in style, it is now up to the franchise to ensure his legacy lives on with the younger generation.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

Topics:
NBA
Western Conference
Gordon Hayward
Utah Jazz
Northwest Division
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Kobe Bryant

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